Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Najib-Trump meet puts pragmatism before controversy

The Malaysian leader's vow to purchase US-made airplanes and invest in US infrastructure aimed to head off possible punitive trade measures

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak began a three-day visit to Washington on Tuesday with a White House visit aimed at bolstering bilateral ties with the Trump administration.

US Department of Justice-led court cases into the US dealings of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund created and until recently overseen by Najib had threatened to cast a cloud over the meeting, but the two leaders focused on areas in which they could agree.

Prior to the meeting, Najib’s first to the White House since assuming the premiership in 2009, the Malaysian leader said he would press for bilateral trade negotiations in response to Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a once US-led multilateral trade pact that would have included Malaysia and several other Pacific Rim nations.

The two sides started talks towards a possible bilateral trade pact in 2006, but halted those negotiations after Malaysia decided to join TPP. Malaysia has run an uninterrupted trade surplus with the US since 1990.

Read the full story at the Asia Times.

Nile Bowie is a writer and journalist with the Asia Times covering current affairs in Singapore and Malaysia. He can be reached at