In recent time, Mahathir Mohamad—Malaysian Prime Minister—said that he is willing to end a mega Asia-Pacific trade contract without India “for the time being.” Mahathir was mentioning the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) that comprises 16 countries in the Asia Pacific region. The conciliations have been going since 2013, with one of the main sticking points being India’s unwillingness to open up its markets. The latest report by Nikkei Asian Review said that China—which is growing irritated with the sluggish progress on RCEP talks—planned to move ahead with just 13 nations excluding India, New Zealand, and Australia from the deal.
The 16 nations engaged in RCEP are the 10 Southeast Asian countries and six of their big trading associates: Japan, China, Australia, South Korea, India, and New Zealand. If the contract is finalized, the 16 nations would form the main trading bloc that covers almost one-third of the GDP (gross domestic product) globally. During an interview with CNBC, Mahathir acknowledged the obstacles in attaining a deal amongst the 16 countries. “I feel we would work towards it. It is very difficult as we are competing economies and we are contending with each other and from there, to move ahead to work together needs some fundamental change in our mindset, which will take time,” he stated in Bangkok, where he is attending a summit for the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).
On a similar note, recently, Mahathir stated that Goldman Sachs is providing “peanuts” to pay off for 1MDB. Reportedly, Goldman Sachs has offered $241.73 Million (1 Billion ringgit) to reimburse Malaysia for its function in a multi-billion dollar monetary scandal including a Malaysian state fund, but the PM of the Southeast Asian nation y described that sum as “peanuts.”
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