CANBERRA, Aug 20 – Malaysia welcomes the review of the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA) but any effort to do so will only be considered after the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have been concluded.
Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Darell Leiking said MAFTA had benefited businesses, investors and consumers through the reduction and elimination of tariffs and increased access for trade and investment.
“It has also allowed open market access to various industries and services in both our countries,” he said at the 18th Australia-Malaysia Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting with Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Senator Simon Birmingham here today.
He said Malaysia, therefore, welcomed the review of MAFTA but priority is being given in concluding the multilateral RCEP.
“Since both parties are currently negotiating RCEP towards its conclusion by the end of this year, we may consider having the review only after RCEP is concluded,” he said.
He added that both parties must also have clear objectives and parameters if such a review is going to be taken.
Both ministers also directed officials to convene the Joint Commission of the bilateral Malaysia-Australia FTA early next year to take stock of the bilateral trade and investment issues including the parameters for a future general review of MAFTA.
During the meeting, a few issues faced by Malaysian and Australian companies were raised including market access and mutual recognition of standards.
Darell seeks cooperation from Australia to recognise and accept the Good Manufacturing Practice certificates issued by the Malaysian National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) and would welcome collaboration between NPRA and Australian Therapeutic Good Administration.
“With regards to the issue of standards, we hope Australia will consider Malaysia’s request to have mutual recognition agreements for standards,” he said.
The minister said the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) has also been working closely with the Australian Government through the Halal Task Force Working Group.
“We welcome collaboration between Malaysia and Australia in tapping into the global halal market which is estimated to be worth more than US$2.3 trillion (US$1=RM4.18), with the halal food sector alone estimated to be worth nearly US$700 million,” he said.
He also reiterated Malaysia’s commitment to ensure the country remained an open economy and friendly to businesses, including Australian investors.
He said the business community is encouraged to partner with the government to improve the business environment.
Meanwhile, Darell had also touched on the RCEP, requesting all parties involved in the negotiations to demonstrate flexibilities with the guiding principle that RCEP is ASEAN-driven.
“It is critical to deliberate and decide on outstanding issues from Jakarta round onwards that are critical to some governments for them to announce conclusion of negotiations in November,” he said.
On Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Darell said Malaysia as the host in 2020 would be delivering the key message of “Shared Prosperity” that would be embraced in all the priority areas and initiatives carried out in the hosting year.
He said this would be done through emphasis on “Shared Responsibility”.
“The message underscores the need to address the unequal distribution of economic growth between and within the APEC economies in the age of digital disruption,” he said.
He said the enablers in the form of priority areas have been narrowed down to three broad areas, namely improving the narrative of trade and investment, inclusive economic participation through digital economy and technology, and driving innovative sustainability.
On the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Darell said Malaysia is still evaluating the agreement and that the country do not have a specific date for ratification.
He said the new government has also yet to decide on whether Malaysia would ratify the agreement.
RCEP is a multilateral trade agreement between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and its six FTA partners — China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.
The agreement would encompass 30 per cent of global gross domestic product, 3.5 billion people and eclipse the CPTPP.
Last year, Australia was Malaysia’s 11th largest overall global trading partner, with total trade between both countries recorded at RM55.13 billion.
In terms of investments, 350 manufacturing projects were implemented with total investments of RM2.79 billion, creating 22,626 jobs in Malaysia in key manufacturing sectors such as chemical-based products, petroleum-based products and rubber-based products. — Bernama
LONDON, Aug 20 — England women’s coach Phil Neville has urged the football community to boycott social media for six months and “send a powerful message” in response to a significant rise in online racist abuse of players.
Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba became the latest high-profile player to be a target of online abuse after he missed a penalty in yesterday’s 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
“I’ve lost total faith in whoever runs these social media departments, so I just wonder whether now as a football community, in terms of really sending a powerful message, is: come off social media,” Neville told reporters today.
“Six months — let’s come off social media. Let’s see the effect that it has on these social media companies, whether they’re really going to do something about it.”
Last week, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard urged social media companies to take stricter action after 21-year-old striker Tammy Abraham was the target of racist abuse after his missed penalty in the Uefa Super Cup loss to Liverpool.
A study released by equality and inclusion organisation Kick It Out said it received 159 reports of discrimination via social media in the English professional game last season.
Today, Pogba’s United team mate Harry Maguire urged social media companies to verify user accounts to prevent supporters from abusing players anonymously.
It is a view which was echoed by Neville.
“It’s a problem not just in football — it’s a problem in society, but football now is at the forefront of everybody’s minds in terms of, we’ve got the power to do something about it,” Neville added.
“Maguire said this morning about being verified, giving passport details and addresses to be hold accountable for posting such disgusting things. You can be an egg on Twitter and no one knows who you are.”
Neville was speaking after announcing his 24-player squad for England women’s upcoming friendlies against Belgium and Norway, handing call-ups to four debutants.
Chelsea’s Bethany England and Manchester City’s Aoife Mannion will join the senior team for the first time, alongside two members of the bronze medal-winning Under-20 World Cup squad, 21-year-old Sandy MacIver and 20-year-old Anna Patten.
Neville has included 19 players who featured in the recent women’s World Cup in France, where the team finished fourth.
England face Belgium in Leuven on August 29, before travelling to Berben to take on Norway on September 3. — Reuters
JOHOR BARU, Aug 20 — A total of 34 individuals were arrested in Johor between 2015 and 2018 for suspected involvement in terror activities, said state deputy police chief Datuk Mohd Kamarudin Md Din.
He said the suspects comprised locals and foreigners but none was a civil servant.
“Based on the information I have, it was more about ideology, fanatical beliefs on certain causes or leaders.
“But with our capability, especially the Special Branch, we have nipped these threats and arrested those involved before they could implement their agenda,” he said.
He was speaking at a press conference after the monthly assembly at the Johor police contingent headquarters and the handing over of duties from him to the new Johor deputy police chief Datuk Shafie Ismail.
Mohd Kamarudin said police would continue to monitor the situation and use the intelligence obtained from various quarters to combat terror threats.
In his speech, he reminded police personnel not to be influenced by radical beliefs or teachings.
He said that in Johor deviant teachings like Shia and Hizbut Tahrir Malaysia (HTM) were being spread through various activities like demonstrations, protests, public discussions and seminars.
Mohd Kamarudin also said police would strive to further bring down the crime index in the state, especially in view of Visit Johor Year and the Malaysia Games next year. — Bernama
WASHINGTON, Aug 20 — The White House today accused China of “bullying tactics” in the increasingly tense waters of the South China Sea and said it would resist Beijing on the dispute.
“China’s recent escalation of efforts to intimidate others out of developing resources in the South China Sea is disturbing,” President Donald Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton tweeted.
“The United States stands firmly with those who oppose coercive behavior and bullying tactics which threaten regional peace and security.”
China has been accused of deploying warships, arming island outposts and ramming fishing vessels in the resource-rich sea, also contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Washington has repeatedly criticised China’s attempts to exert growing dominance in the disputed waters, but Bolton’s latest broadside comes as the two economic superpowers face off in a damaging trade war. — AFP
MANCHESTER, Aug 20 — Manchester United’s opening two games of the season have given a clear indication of the direction manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is taking his team but have also exposed their limited options.
After opening with a 4-0 win over Chelsea, yesterday’s 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers, would have been a second straight win, had Paul Pogba converted his second half penalty kick.
As well as regretting that spot kick, United will also look back on their dominance in the first half and wonder why they didn’t go on to add to Anthony Martial’s 27th-minute goal.
Martial, operating as a central striker in the number nine shirt left by departure of Romelu Lukaku, won plenty of praise for his well-taken goal and his involvement in the team’s attacks.
But it was also evident that the French forward is fighting his instincts to drift out to the left flank in search of possession — a habit that often takes him into Marcus Rashford’s territory and leaves United short in the central area.
Solskjaer, himself a classic goal poacher, has been working directly and personally with Martial on the training ground in an effort to get more out of him centrally and close to goal.
“The more we get him in positions to score, the more goals he’ll score.
“This was a wonderful goal but (I want him to) add those five extra tap-ins. He’s already had one last week (against Chelsea) so he’s got four more to go at least,” Solskjaer said after yesterday’s game.
But the most revealing comment from Norwegian regarding Martial came after the opening match when he expressed his delight at the goal but contrasted it with the striker’s all too frequent habit.
Talking of Martial’s first goal of the season, Solskjaer asked: “The thing is, how do you react? Do you drop your shoulders and think. ‘I’ve scored my goal now?’ Or do you get hungrier and realise, ‘That’s where I score my goals?’
“It’s not out wide on the left-hand side, showing my skills. It’s in that box.”
What will be more difficult for Solskjaer to address is the lack of creative quality in his midfield.
United are set up to attack at speed on the break but as a top six team in the Premier League they are also going to have plenty of matches where they enjoy spells of control and their opponents are content to sit deep and frustrate.
The midfield setup at Wolves featured two holding midfielders in Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay with Jesse Lingard buzzing further forward behind the front three, which included the speedy Dan James on the right.
The pressing was effective, especially with full backs Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw, contributing from the wide areas. But when the game slowed and United had the ball, the absence of a genuine number 10, a player who can create an opening or fashion something out of nothing, was stark.
That explains why United were reported to be interested in acquiring Christian Eriksen from Tottenham Hotspur. With no opportunity to address that deficiency until the January transfer window, Solskjaer will have to look at juggling his existing resources.
The most obvious option is to push Pogba into a more advanced role, freeing him from his defensive duties.
What is beyond debate however is that United’s back four looks much more solid since the arrival of Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire, the £80 million (RM404.5 million) close-season signing and the world’s most expensive defender.
With a functioning defence and an improving attack, United are well placed for a season of progress after last year’s turmoil but ultimately they will have to spend to add the quality needed to challenge at the top. — Reuters
COLOMBO, Aug 20 — Sri Lanka today brushed aside as “unwarranted and unacceptable” international criticism of its decision to name a war veteran accused of human rights violations as its army chief.
Yesterday’s appointment of Shavendra Silva, 55, a key military leader during the final phase of the island nation’s 26-year-long war with dissident Tamil Tigers, drew flak from the United States, United Nations and civil society groups.
The appointment was a sovereign decision taken by Sri Lanka’s president, its foreign ministry said today.
“Foreign entities trying to influence the decisions and internal administrative processes of public service promotions in Sri Lanka is unwarranted and unacceptable,” it said in a statement.
Concerns raised over the appointment were “based on allegations” and were “regrettable”, it added.
In a statement, the European Union said the appointment called into question Sri Lanka’s international commitment to ensure justice and accountability.
“It also undermines Sri Lanka’s efforts towards national reconciliation and sends a worrying message to victims and survivors of the war,” the delegation of the European Union in Sri Lanka said on Tuesday.
A United Nations panel has accused Silva’s army division of suspected extrajudicial executions of unarmed rebels in the final week of the war, which ended in 2009, and systematic torture of people in custody.
He has denied the accusations.
Some of Sri Lanka’s key allies could sever ties with the country’s military with Silva at the helm, security experts have warned.
“The US might stop its military assistance, specially training to Sri Lanka,” said defence analyst Iqbal Athas, adding that the Indian Ocean island nation could face a similar backlash from the European Union. — Reuters
BEIJING, Aug 20 — Huawei today dismissed Washington’s three-month delay to a ban on US firms selling to the Chinese tech giant and said the decision would not change the fact it had been “treated unjustly”.
The US Commerce Department effectively suspended for a second time tough rules stopping the sale of components and services to the telecoms titan and a prohibition on buying equipment from it.
However, it also said it would add 46 more companies to its list of Huawei subsidiaries and affiliates that would be covered by the ban if it is implemented in full — taking the total on the list to more than 100.
The original ban was announced earlier this year by US authorities who claim it provides a backdoor for Chinese intelligence services — something the firm denies.
“It’s clear that this decision, made at this particular time, is politically motivated and has nothing to do with national security,” Huawei responded in a statement, adding that the actions “violate the basic principles of free market competition.”
“They are in no one’s interests, including US companies. Attempts to suppress Huawei’s business won’t help the United States achieve technological leadership” Huawei said.
“The extension of the Temporary General License does not change the fact that Huawei has been treated unjustly.”
Yesterday’s move means Huawei can continue to buy US-made semiconductors and other materials crucial to its phones and network equipment, and that US telecommunications companies can continue to buy Huawei’s networking equipment.
But China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang called on the US drop the ban altogether.
“No matter what the US does, it cannot change the erroneous nature of generalising the concept of national security, abusing export control measures, adopting discriminatory unfair practices against specific enterprises in other countries, and even undisguised suppression, without having any evidence,” Geng said at a regular briefing today.
“We urge the US to immediately stop this wrong approach,” he said.
Huawei — considered the world leader in superfast 5G equipment and the world’s number two smartphone producer — was in May swept into a deepening trade war between Beijing and Washington, which has seen punitive tariffs slapped on hundreds of billions of dollars of two-way trade.
The suspension of the ban does not signal a change in US concerns that Huawei equipment poses a national security threat or lift a general prohibition on the use of its 5G systems in the United States.
“As we continue to urge consumers to transition away from Huawei’s products, we recognise that more time is necessary to prevent any disruption,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
Earlier this month, Huawei unveiled its own operating system called HarmonyOS, highly anticipated software considered crucial for the tech group’s survival as the looming ban could remove its access to Google’s Android operating system. — AFP
MADRID, Aug 20 —The Spanish government said today it was sending a navy ship to the Italian island of Lampedusa to escort the Open Arms rescue ship to Spain, in a bid to bring an end to an ordeal that has seen migrants stranded in the Mediterranean for 19 days.
“The Audaz will depart this afternoon at 5 p.m. and will sail for three days to Lampedusa, where it will take charge of the people hosted by the Open Arms and escort the boat ... to the port of Palma in Mallorca,” the Socialist government said in a statement.
The Open Arms ship, run by a Spanish charity of the same name, was still unaware of the plan. Earlier today the charity described the situation onboard as “out of control,” and said that at least ten people had jumped overboard in a “desperate” attempt to swim to Lampedusa. — Reuters
KUTUPALONG (Bangladesh), Aug 20 — When Mohammad Rafiq spotted two Rohingya refugee girls dusting their faces with circles of traditional thanaka powder under the warm morning light, he quickly took out his smartphone to capture the moment.
The 19-year-old budding photographer, who fled to Bangladesh in August 2017 after a military crackdown in Myanmar, uses his mobile phone to record the daily lives of nearly one million stateless Rohingya in a vast camp in southern Bangladesh.
“I loved the photo instantly as it reflects our culture and the innocence of the little girls who barely want to remember the crisis we are facing,” Rafiq told AFP.
Rafiq is among some 30 Rohingya youths selected by the World Food Programme for its “Storytellers” project.
For two weeks, they are taught smartphone photo and video-shooting techniques -— such as understanding light, exposure and angles — as well as writing skills.
The refugees then share their stories directly with the public through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with audiences around the world posting comments and asking questions.
“The idea behind it is to be able to hand back the narrative to the people that we are already assisting,” WFP spokeswoman Gemma Snowdon told AFP.
The Storytellers Page on Facebook has more than 30,000 followers and includes similar schemes rolled out in Chad and Uganda.
All the Rohingya posters have a similar goal — to share with the outside world the raw, emotional ups and downs they face living in the world’s largest refugee camp.
Minara, who was four months’ pregnant when she fled In this picture taken on July 23, 2019, Rohingya youth Mohammad Rafiq (right) uses his mobile phone to take photos at the Kutupalong refugee camp. — AFP pic Myanmar, shares videos of how refugees are given ropes to tie their makeshift tarpaulin roofs to bamboo poles so they are not blown away by strong winds.
Another post, by Hafsa Aktar, is a heartrending letter to her father who was left behind, in which she writes of the difficult conditions in the camp and her deep longing to return to her homeland.
Life through the lens
Being able to take photos again has put a spring in the steps of Rafiq, who wanted to continue his schooling after the 10th grade in Myanmar but was blocked by authorities.
When he was 15, Rafiq’s father bought him his first-ever smartphone as a present. Thrilled with the device, he explored his town in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state, taking photos of everything he loved.
But Rafiq’s life was turned upside down in 2017 when the brutal army campaign drove some 740,000 Rohingya Muslims across the border to Cox’s Bazar, where another 200,000 refugees were already living in squalid camps.
During the arduous journey to neighbouring Bangladesh to escape the violence, the teenager lost his favourite possession — his smartphone.
“I arrived in Bangladesh with my mother and three younger siblings after 10 days of harrowing walks through the hills,” Rafiq recalled as he sat in a shanty inside the camp.
“I wish I could have captured the moments of anguish we had to suffer on our way out of Myanmar.”
Now Rafiq is becoming a star on Facebook through his photos.
In one post that has attracted some 180,000 views, Rafiq captures a woman meditating during the month of Ramadan to show how the Muslim minority are now free to practise their religion even as they grapple with the hardships in the crammed shelters.
“International media is covering the stories in the camps but they are not here 24/7 but I am,” he said, adding that his stories were more authentic.
“People learn from my stories that we are seeking justice and want to return home.”
On some days, Rafiq walks to a vantage point in the camps where he can see the hills of Myanmar shrouded by clouds in the distance, and thinks of home.
“I see flashbacks of how my friends and I used to roam around the place. I feel very sad,” he said, adding that he hopes to return one day and be a photojournalist.
“That will be the fulfilment of my dream.” — AFP
AUGUST 20 — Elanco Animal Health agreed to buy Bayer’s veterinary drugs unit today in a cash and stock deal valued at US$7.6 billion, creating the second largest animal health business and expanding Elanco’s reach online.
The deal is the latest in the fast-growing animal health market, which has recently seen Elanco floated by Eli Lilly and Co and rival US drugmaker Pfizer also spinning off its veterinary medicine business.
It also adds to the list of assets sold by Bayer, as the German company looks to slash debt after its US$63 billion takeover of seed maker Monsanto last year.
Elanco said it expected the transaction to close by the middle of 2020.
The two companies said Bayer would receive US$5.3 billion in cash and US$2.3 billion worth of Elanco stock based on a price of US$33.60 per share, the 30-day average price as of Aug. 6.
Elanco said the stock amounted to 68 million shares, or a stake of about 18.2 per cent based on Refinitiv data, but the number of shares could rise or fall by as much as 7.5 per cent, depending on Elanco’s share price performance on the closing date.
The price tag implies a multiple of 18.8 times adjusted core earnings, Bayer said, adding it would sell the equity stake over time.
Reuters reported last month that Bayer had approached Elanco to discuss a possible combination that would be number two after industry leader Zoetis and ahead of unlisted Boehringer Ingelheim – which bought animal health assets from Sanofi – and drugmaker Merck & Co.
Market researchers expect the US$44 billion animal health sector to grow 5 per cent-6 per cent per year, driven by an increase in livestock farming and, more importantly, by more people wanting to own pets and spending more money on their wellbeing.
Bayer is the world’s largest maker of flea and tick control products for cats and dogs, with Elanco praising its “top presence on Amazon” with “industry-leading e-commerce/retail capabilities.”
“The move combines our long-standing focus on the veterinarian, while meeting pet owners’ changing expectation of pet care and access to products,” said Elanco CEO Jeffrey Simmons.
Bayer has recently sold its 60 per cent stake in a chemical park operator as well as consumer health brands Dr. Scholl’s and Coppertone. — Reuters