‘Malaysia will keep op­tions open on pact’

New Straits Times - - Business -

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will keep its op­tions open on the Trans Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP) agree­ment fol­low­ing the with­drawal of the United States from the group­ing.

In­ter­na­tional Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Mustapa Mo­hamed made Malaysia’s stand clear dur­ing a meet­ing with mem­bers of the group­ing in Hanoi.

The 11 — Aus­tralia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mex­ico, New Zealand, Ja­pan, Peru, Sin­ga­pore and Viet­nam — yes­ter­day agreed to keep the mo­men­tum go­ing, with Ja­pan and New Zealand tak­ing the lead to keep the trade pact alive.

“In the event that the TPP is go­ing to pro­ceed with­out the US par­tic­i­pa­tion, we will need to en­sure that our in­ter­ests re­main pro­tected and the ben­e­fits still out­weigh the costs,” said Mustapa on the side­lines of the Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion trade min­is­ters’ meet­ing yes­ter­day.

The US has re­it­er­ated its stand that it would not re­turn to TPP ne­go­ti­a­tions yes­ter­day.

US trade rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robert Lighthizer told a me­dia con­fer­ence that the US now pre­ferred bi­lat­eral trade deals as the US wanted to con­tinue to en­gage with the re­gion.

Trade of­fi­cials from the re­main­ing TPP mem­bers pledged to keep the mo­men­tum of trade lib­er­al­i­sa­tion and re­gional in­te­gra­tion by con­tin­u­ing the dis­cus­sions to bring the com­pre­hen­sive trade agree­ment into force.

“The TPP of­fi­cials will start the process to as­sess all op­tions avail­able for the sig­na­to­ries," said Mustapa, adding that they would look for the path­way to fa­cil­i­tate par­tic­i­pa­tion of all mem­ber coun­tries.

“We agreed that they will main­tain the high stan­dards of the agree­ment and the bal­ance of ben­e­fits for all mem­bers, and en­sure that the TPP main­tains the com­mer­cial and strate­gic in­ter­ests of all par­tic­i­pants.”

For Malaysia, an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion is the pos­si­bil­ity of miss­ing out on eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties if it does not con­tinue its par­tic­i­pa­tion.

“We will need to en­sure that our in­ter­ests re­main pro­tected and the ben­e­fits out­weigh the costs,” said Mustapa.

The min­istry will con­tinue its en­gage­ment with do­mes­tic stake­hold­ers as soon as there is greater clar­ity on the op­tions.

So far, Ja­pan and New Zealand have rat­i­fied the agree­ment that was signed in Fe­bru­ary last year while the other coun­tries are in var­i­ous stages of the process.

Malaysia will con­tinue to amend the leg­is­la­tion cover­ing sev­eral ar­eas, in­clud­ing labour and in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights, “re­gard­less of whether or not we will be part of the TPP agree­ment”, ac­cord­ing to Mustapa.

Ja­pan will host the next meet­ing of TPP of­fi­cials in July. Rupa Damodaran

We will need to en­sure that our in­ter­ests re­main pro­tected and the ben­e­fits out­weigh the costs. DATUK SERI MUSTAPA MO­HAMED In­ter­na­tional Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter

In­ter­na­tional Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Mustapa Mo­hamed (sec­ond from left) at a meet­ing with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship mem­bers in Hanoi yes­ter­day.

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