February 17, 2015 — Members of the congressional delegation meet with Malaysian officials.
On the second leg of a three-nation trip to Asia, members of a congressional delegation led by Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) arrived in Malaysia on Tuesday.
Malaysia and the U.S. share a long history of cooperation, and the country has shown interest for even greater engagement with the U.S. in recent years. The country, however, has many outstanding commitments it still needs to make to conclude a successful Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The delegation used the trip to Malaysia to reiterate the enormous potential a good deal holds for both countries.
During the day, the delegation held separate meetings with Economic Planning Minister Dato’ Sri Abdul Wahid Omar and Minister of International Trade and Industry Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed. There, the members conveyed that Congress will pass legislation to implement TPP only if it raises standards from previous agreements and addresses new 21st century issues. The delegation recognized Malaysia’s challenges in carrying out its goals to reform and become a more competitive nation, noting that TPP can help Malaysia meet this ambition. Malaysia may require a longer timeframe to implement TPP reforms, but it still must ultimately meet the same high standards to which all countries are committing, the members told the Malaysian leaders. If Malaysia is not part of the final TPP agreement, the delegation noted, it would be a huge lost opportunity.
In the evening, the delegation held a working dinner with Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak. The members used the dinner with Prime Minister Najib to stress the short timeline that nations have to conclude a successful TPP agreement and encouraged him to empower his negotiators to make necessary commitments. The dinner also allowed the members to gain insights into current political and economic challenges in Malaysia as well as hear the Prime Minister’s perspective on how the government’s Bumiputra policies affect the TPP negotiations. Members of the delegation highlighted the need for progress in areas such as state-owned enterprises, market-access exceptions, intellectual property, and labor.
Chairman Ryan also conveyed his expectation that trade promotion authority legislation will soon pass Congress, underscoring the urgency for Malaysia to make progress in its TPP negotiations. He talked about the tremendous opportunity that TPP provides both Malaysia and the United States to advance our economic and geopolitical goals.
Earlier in the day, the members were guests at a lunch with the American Chamber of Commerce in Malaysia, where they heard from business leaders about the need for increased trade and U.S. engagement in the region.
The goal of the delegation’s trip is to advance the American trade agenda and strengthen ties between the U.S. and the Asian nations. Members of the delegation visiting Asia are Chairman Ryan, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA), Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), and Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE).