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Malaysia PM keen to pursue FTA with India

Prime Minister Mohd Najib Razak today said that the India-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement was put on the "backburner" due to protests in Kerala where livelihoods of lakhs of farmers may be affected due to cheaper imports from the South East Asian nation.

world Updated: Jan 11, 2010 21:47 IST

Prime Minister Mohd Najib Razak today said that the India-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement was put on the "backburner" due to protests in Kerala where livelihoods of lakhs of farmers may be affected due to cheaper imports from the South East Asian nation.

Najib who is embarking on a five-day India visit will discuss the issue with the New Delhi. He will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on January 20.

The issue was put "on backburner due to adverse reaction from one of the Indian states (Kerala). I would like to see this move forward. Time is now ripe to put it back on track," he said during an interaction with visiting Indian journalists here.

"We want to conclude it by the end of this year. I will rise the issue (with Indian officials) during my visit," he said when asked when the FTA is likely to be signed between the two countries.

Fishermen in Kerala are unhappy because imports from ASEAN countries like Malaysia and Singapore will affect the livelihoods of traditional and small scale fishery sectors.

In Kerala, there had been strong agitation from coconut, cashew-nut and spice growers, who fear the deal, would jeopardise their livelihoods, as cheaper products from neighbouring countries enter the country.

Razak will be accompanied by one of the biggest delegations comprising eight ministers, five chief ministers and business leaders.