Apparel trade groups from the US and Malaysia are calling for the "immediate and reciprocal elimination of duties" between the two countries as the latest round of trade talks takes place this week.

The United States and Malaysia began free trade agreement talks in June last year and began a fifth round on Monday at Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia's Sabah state. US negotiators are under pressure to reach a deal by the end of March.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and the Malaysian Textile Manufacturers Association (MTMA) want to see a swift conclusion to discussions regarding the US-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement, and say the agreement should include the immediate elimination of all duties.

Kevin M Burke, AAFA president and CEO, on Wednesday (7 February) said he "strongly encourages" the US and Malaysian negotiators who are working on this important accord "to recognise that it must benefit both US and Malaysian textile and apparel industries and be sufficiently flexible to maintain a viable partnership between the two countries.
 
MTMA president YH Tan added, however, that there is a "need to include mechanisms that will create a dynamic, and not stagnant, agreement to reflect the industries as they change over the coming years."
 
US textile and apparel exports to Malaysia totalled $24.5m for the year ending November 2006 while Malaysian exports to the US totalled $743m.