Earlier talks never really got going, but both sides have apparently realized that their last best chance to forge a deal may come following Malaysia's March parliamentary elections while the current U.S. Administration is still in place. A two-way free trade agreement between the two nations would be quite important, but significant differences still need to be overcome in areas such as government procurement, financial services, intellectual property rights, telecommunications, Malaysia's ethnic preference programs, etc. The U.S. side also lacks "fast track" negotiating authority, meaning Congress would have the potentially crippling right to amend any resulting package that comes before it for ratification.  In short, it's hard to tell whether the two sides are stuck in the polite charade of not wanting to publicly admit defeat, or whether they really think an FTA is possible.

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