Southeast Asia's newly-signed pact to broaden trade and investment with the United States will not be used to push military-run Myanmar towards democratic reform, Malaysia said on Friday.
Malaysia's Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz said the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) inked with the US could see progress in reforming Myanmar, but ruled out its use as a tool to pressure the country.
"If, through the TIFA, we get to realise things in Myanmar that could not be realised in any other way, that would be a good contribution," Rafidah said in a joint press conference with US Trade Representative Susan Schwab.
"But we shouldn't be using this TIFA to push any country in any way," she added, speaking after Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ministers signed the pact with Schwab.
Washington has imposed investment and trade bans on Myanmar in an attempt to force it to introduce democratic reforms, and has insisted the TIFA will not change its position on the military-run state.
"Obviously the United States has some very serious concerns about human rights issues in Burma. The TIFA is not going to change that," Schwab said.
Rafidah and Schwab insisted the trade pact would see initiatives enacted on a regional rather than bilateral basis.
Schwab said the US had separate trading relationships with individual ASEAN countries, and that it was interested in cementing growing economic ties with the region as a whole.