NEW YORK, Feb 24 (Bernama) — As official contacts between Malaysia and the United States intensify, two-way traffic between Malaysia and Washington is also expected to increase in the coming weeks.
Malaysia’s ambassador in Washington, Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin, said that “many things are happening between our two countries”, and he expected greater interaction and contacts between the two sides.
“I expect official traffic from Malaysia to Washington to increase in the coming weeks and months,” he said in an interview with Bernama at the Malaysian permanent mission to the United Nations in New York, while attending the Chinese New Year celebrations which were held there on the weekend.
According to Awang Adek, many prominent political personalities will visit Washington.
“Malaysian officials and political figures will be visiting Washington to push ahead the Visa Waiver Programme which we have been discussing with our American friends for some time now,” said Awang Adek, who said that Malaysia was interested in getting agreements signed and had to sort out the compliance factor to enable it to get the visa-waiver status.
“These visits will be a follow-up to the visit to Washington by our Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi last year to hold talks on the Visa Waiver Programme. We still need to sort out certain procedural and technical requirements,” Awang Adek explained.
The just-concluded Counter-Terrorism Summit in Washington, organised by the U.S. Department of State, attracted many foreign leaders who had arrived to discuss and formulate a strategy to combat the pressing problem of terrorism.
Malaysia had also participated in the event. Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Alwi Ibrahim, who represented Malaysia at this event and is still in Washington, spoke on the panel of the summit.
Awang Adek pointed out that Malaysia’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin, will also be visiting Washington early March to meet his American counterpart and other key figures.
“We envisage a lot of bilateral meetings and activities in the near future,” he contended.
Awang Adek sounded upbeat about the future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) which the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is keen to finalise.
“We are having intense discussions to bring the TPPA talks to conclusion. My personal view is that the U.S. administration is optimistic that the TPPA will be passed by the U.S. Congress. The U.S. is also encouraging its partner countries to resolve outstanding issues relative to the TPPA,” he said.
He was ‘very happy’ with the just-concluded visit to Malaysia by a U.S. bipartisan delegation led by the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Paul Ryan, who is also in charge of the TPPA.
During his visit to Malaysia, Ryan met Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, the Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry, as well as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Ryan, who also visited Singapore and Japan, stated at a press conference in Tokyo: “We are in what we call the 11th hour in negotiating the final pieces of the TPA. We don’t have a set timeline yet, other than the fact that this will be done this spring.”
Backed by trade promotion authority or TPA, the government will only need to ask Congress whether it backs the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal across the board without revisions. The TPA legislation will be deliberated at the House Ways and Means Committee.
“I see the (Ryan) visit as a positive sign for pushing forward the TPPA issue,” Awang Adek said.
The mood in Washington on the TPPA issue is positive, with the pro-business and pro-trade Republican dominance in Congress making it easier for the House to endorse the TPPA.
President Obama can present it as a package to Congress which has a choice to either completely accept or reject the deal. The U.S. Congress cannot alter, change or revise any of the terms of the TPPA negotiated by the administration.