Min­is­ter says Welling­ton will not gain much from ma­jor changes to ‘well bal­anced’ pact

New Straits Times - - Business | News - TODD MCCLAY

HANOI of­fice, cit­ing a per­ceived threat to Amer­i­can jobs — it should be rene­go­ti­ated given the down­siz­ing to 11 mem­bers. That has raised fur­ther ques­tions about the vi­a­bil­ity of the deal, with a dead­line of Novem­ber for lead­ers to de­cide how to pro­ceed.

“Malaysia will speak for them­selves,” said McClay. “Some may want to make changes, oth­ers less so. We have time and the de­sire to work in de­tail to see what it should look like. I am quite op­ti­mistic.”

The agree­ment, which would cover 40 per cent of the global econ­omy, was seen as a hall­mark of US en­gage­ment with

Asia un­der the prior ad­min­is­tra­tion and a buf­fer against China’s ris­ing eco­nomic and mil­i­tary clout.

Some na­tions like New Zealand, Aus­tralia and Ja­pan have been push­ing for the deal to con­tinue, but In­ter­na­tional Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said on Fri­day Malaysia was less keen to pro­ceed.

“One of the rea­sons we de­cided to be part of the TPP was the po­ten­tial ac­cess to the Amer­i­can mar­ket. If that does not hap­pen one of the ma­jor mo­ti­va­tions to be part of the TPP will be re­moved.”

He said if the re­main­ing coun­tries went ahead the pact should be rene­go­ti­ated. “In the event it’s TPP mi­nus one, in our view it can­not be the one that was agreed in Auck­land in Fe­bru­ary last year,” said Mustapa .

TPP min­is­ters met on the side­lines of an Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (Apec) meet­ing, here, on Sun­day. They will now ask their se­nior trade of­fi­cials to work out how to take the pact for­ward and re­port back by the Apec lead­ers’ sum­mit in Novem­ber in Viet­nam.

Progress on the TPP with­out the US would re­quire a re­vi­sion to the pro­vi­sion that at least six states, which to­gether ac­count for 85 per cent of the com­bined gross do­mes­tic prod­uct of all orig­i­nal sig­na­to­ries, rat­ify it. The US made up about 60 per cent.

Still, McClay saw progress at the Hanoi meet­ing.

“I think a lot was achieved, you see unity from the 11, you see real com­mit­ment to the im­por­tance of TPP as an agree­ment,” he said.

“Each coun­try will have to have a dif­fer­ent ap­proach,” he said. “But I firmly be­lieve there is eco­nomic ben­e­fit to all of the re­main­ing 11 coun­tries through TPP, and most im­por­tantly, there is a strate­gic rea­son that we should con­tinue to con­sider TPP.”

Ja­pan is also push­ing for unity among the so-called TPP 11, say­ing the ben­e­fits of the deal go be­yond the US’s in­volve­ment.

“No agree­ment other than TPP goes so far into dig­i­tal trade, in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty and im­prov­ing cus­toms pro­ce­dures,” said Trade Min­is­ter Hiroshige Seko, here, on Sun­day.

Seko down­played con­cerns that par­ties might de­mand a rene­go­ti­a­tion of the pact in order to con­tinue.

“Each coun­try has its own think­ing and there are var­i­ous op­tions to launch the TPP 11,” he said. “Even with­out Amer­ica it is a high-level, ex­tremely valu­able agree­ment.” Bloomberg

New Zealand be­lieves that the agree­ment is very well bal­anced and needs lit­tle rene­go­ti­a­tion per­haps other than the way it en­ters into force.


In­ter­na­tional Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (sec­ond from right) at the Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion meet­ing in Hanoi on Sun­day.

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