Asean-6 promises cheaper cars

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Asean-6 promises cheaper cars
By Adrian Lim

Negotiation ongoing with national carmakers as Msia prepares to open doors to regional neighbours

KUCHING: Cars could be cheaper by Jan 1 next year under the Asean-6 which comprises Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed, who alluded to this possibility yesterday, said his ministry was in negotiation with national carmakers to bring the prices of cars down.

We will make sure that prices of cars will be reduced.

However, we are still in negotiation with car producers to work out an amicable solution, but the decision is yet to be finalised, he told a press conference after the Investment and Dialogue Seminar on Manufacturing and Services Sector at a hotel here.

He was asked to elaborate on his response to a question from Sarawak Manufacturers Association (SMA) president Chai Foh Chin during the dialogue.

Chai had asked Mustapa whether consumers would enjoy cheaper cars when Malaysia opened up its economy for the Asean-6 which would take effect on Jan1 next year.

Mustapa in his keynote address said Asean-6 was one of the important developments that would take place next year aimed at further enhancing economic integration and linkages.

He said it included elimination of import duties on all products except a few agricultural products by participating countries under Asean-6.

He also said the ministry would conduct an outreach programme to brief Malaysians before the implementation of Asean-6 to enable the public to know the changes going on.

He added that businesses should take advantage of the Asean-6 to increase their trade with participating countries rather than viewing it as a threat for their business.

It is learnt that the Asean-6 has already brought down more than 99 per cent of products in a Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) Inclusion List of the Asean Free Trade Area (AFTA) to the zero to five per cent tariff range.

On another matter, he said the government was proposing more ports to be set up in Sabah and Sarawak to reduce freight charges in a move to liberalise the cabotage shipping policy. He said the matter had been raised with the federal cabinet and governments of both states.

Im aware that the people in Sarawak and Sabah are not satisfied with it (liberalisation) as it has not worked as desired. That is why the consumer price index (CPI) is higher in both states than in the peninsula, he said during the dialogue.

He added that the review of the liberalisation policy was likely to be completed by next year.

Mustapa was replying to points raised by Osman Abdul Rahman from Sarawak Federation of Malaysia Manufacturers, who claimed that the liberalisation policy was only limited to Bintulu and Kuching ports.