Malaysiakini News

Dr M seeks to leverage on 'stupid' US-China trade war

Published:  |  Modified:

The US-China trade war has sparked fears of a global recession but Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad believes that there could also be opportunities for Malaysia.

In a wide-ranging interview on international issues with Thai public broadcaster ThaiPBS, Mahathir acknowledged that the trade war had adversely impacted Malaysia, but noted that there were also advantages.

"There are also certain benefits because the loss of the Chinese market by America means some opportunities for us.

"The American inability to make use of China as a base of manufacturing may also result in their (America) shifting over to other countries including Malaysia," he said in the interview. 

However, Mahathir said Malaysia and its Asean partners must also cope with the negative effects and adjust to changes.

"We are not strong enough to tell either China or America to stop this stupid trade war. It is not going to benefit either of them.

"Because of the effect of the trade war on the region, we need to find ways to adjust so that our economies are not too badly affected.

Mahathir ended his five-day trip to China on Tuesday. Apart from discussing the deferment of megaprojects financed by China, he had worked to woo further Chinese investment.

China had, among others, agreed to buy more palm oil from Malaysia.

This was amid hostile stance taken by the European Union towards Malaysian palm oil over environmental concerns as well as China turning away from American exports due to the trade war.

Mahathir also indicated that Malaysia will proceed with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) which was signed by the previous BN government.

He said concerns about countries being sued by corporations was less with US' exit from the agreement.

"There would be a less overwhelming dominance of the US over other countries (with US' exit).

"We also found that the previous government of this country had already signed to become a member.

"We cannot withdraw without reducing credibility so we would have to go ahead with the TPP," he said.

Mahathir also said his government intended to proceed with the alternative trade agreement being pursued by China, namely the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

"We think we should go ahead because we can't exclude China. 

"You may not like China but the fact is it is there and it is a big country - very powerful and very rich.

"You can't ignore China, you have to take China into consideration so some kind of understanding with China is very good," he said.

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