‘Malaysia will keep options open on pact’
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.