Little to Fear in U.S.-Malay FTA

According to stories today in the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and others, the U.S. and Malaysia are engaged in talks over a possible free trade agreement. Those involved hope a deal could be struck by year end. Legislators are predicting the pact will fly through the approval process.

The Southeast Asia nation is the tenth largest trading partner of the U.S., the report says, with $44 billion exchanged last year.

Moreover, electrical and electronics production comprise Malaysia’s top industrial sector. In 2004, the industry exported some $63.6 billion of goods, with semiconductors ($23.5 billion), industrial ($19.7 billion) and consumer products ($5.2 billion) leading the way (all figures $US). For more on the industry click here.

Several EMS companies have major operations there, including Solectron, Plexus, Celestica, Sanmina-SCI, Jabil and Flextronics.

Should U.S. employees be worried? Probably not: Nearly 85% of Malaysia’s exports to the U.S. are already tariff-free, the story says.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow