American Businesses Seek Competitive Malaysia; Encourage Comprehensive FTA with US

(Kuala Lumpur) The US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) today concluded a senior executives' mission to Malaysia comprised of 18 executives of 10 major American companies, led by Chairman of the US-Malaysia Business Council, Michael Gadbaw, Vice President and Senior Counsel, General Electric Company; Vice Chairman of the US-Malaysia Business Council, V.R. Srivatsan, Managing Director of Oracle Corporation Malaysia; and Matthew Daley, President of the US-ASEAN Business Council.

The delegation came to Malaysia to hold discussions with public and private sector leaders on a range of trade and investment issues. American companies, as trade partners and investors, used the mission to highlight areas where government policies have enhanced the competitiveness of Malaysia's business environment and to encourage liberalization in areas of government procurement and auto industry policy, which would stimulate further investment in Malaysia's export capabilities and a more rapid development of a knowledge economy.

A key objective of the mission was to encourage the start of bilateral FTA talks and to note the strong support of our members for a comprehensive bilateral FTA agreement between the US and Malaysia. From the US-ASEAN Business Council's perspective, the current robust economic outlooks for the United States and Malaysia are conducive for a successful negotiation of an FTA.

"The continued success of the US-Malaysian bilateral economic relationship as evidenced by what we saw this week, is a testimony to what both nations can achieve when enabling policy environments encourage American and Malaysian companies to maximize the value of their deployed human and physical assets. The development of a comprehensive FTA would provide new opportunities for American companies to expand trade and investment with their partners in Malaysia. Moreover, the negotiations and approval of an FTA agreement would focus the attention of the Malaysian and American publics on the opportunities created by one of the most productive economic partnerships in the world", said Michael Gadbaw of General Electric Company.

During the mission, the delegation met with the Minister of Trade and Industry, Minister of Energy, Water and Communications, Minister of Finance II, Governor of the Bank Negara (Central Bank), Chief Minister of the state of Penang, and Minister in charge of the Economic Planning Unit. The delegation also met with officials from the American Chamber of Commerce, the Malaysia business community, and the US Embassy.

“The dialogues and discussions we had with the Malaysian leaders over the past few days were most insightful for us in understanding the macroeconomic situation in the country, the key priorities and focus in the coming year. This will help us align our plans in going forward, be it in terms of investments or future business opportunities”, noted V.R. Srivatsan of Oracle Corporation Malaysia.

In addition to meetings in Kuala Lumpur, the delegation visited Penang, where discussions were held with the Chief Minister of Penang Tan Sri Dr. Koh, members of the Penang based US business community including Intel, Agilent, Fairchild Semi-Conductor, Dell Computers, and members of the Malaysian business community. Delegation members were impressed with the executives from the Malaysian business community in Penang, many of whom have utilized their cultural diversity, skills, and talents, and experience in the global supply chains of US firms in Malaysia, to build "world class" companies with global sales. The growth of US and Malaysian businesses in Penang and the types of investments made by US companies to support human capital and managerial talent development in Malaysia, represents a microcosm of the types of mutual benefits produced from private sector activities in a liberal trade and investment environment.

"The Council was extremely impressed with the candor and clarity of all of the Malaysian officials who noted the importance of Malaysia's ties to the United States and the potential to broaden and deepen our existing economic relationships via initiating talks in 2006 to negotiate an FTA. The Council looks forward to working with a broad range of Malaysian counterparts to encourage our respective governments to begin such negotiations early in 2006", said Council President Matthew Daley.

The companies represented on the mission consisted of a broad cross section of industries. In addition to the General Electric Company, they include: Oracle, AIG, The Boeing Company, ConocoPhillips, Ford Motor Company, Guardian Industries, Microsoft, Unisys, and UPS.

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For 35 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership, more than 160 companies, generate over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people globally. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.