Malaysia shifts fo­cus to China-led trade pact as TPP fal­ters

The Sun (Malaysia) - - MEDIA & MARKETING -

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia said yes­ter­day it would fo­cus ef­forts on wrap­ping up a multi-na­tion trade pact led by China, as the South­east Asian coun­try braces for the pos­si­ble col­lapse of the Tran­sPa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP), spear­headed by the United States.

The com­ment comes af­ter US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion sus­pended ef­forts to win con­gres­sional ap­proval for TPP be­fore Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump takes of­fice, say­ing the pact’s fate was up to Trump and Repub­li­can law­mak­ers.

In­ter­na­tional Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Mustapa Mo­hamed said Malaysia was look­ing to push the Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship (RCEP) mooted by China as part of its out­reach to the 10-mem­ber Asean.

“The cur­rent un­cer­tain in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion has mo­ti­vated and strength­ened the re­solve of RCEP coun­tries, which are among the fastest grow­ing coun­tries in the world, to con­tinue work­ing closely in reach­ing a con­clu­sion of this trade agree­ment,” Mustapa said in a state­ment.

Trump vowed to scrap the TPP sev­eral times dur­ing his cam­paign.

Mustapa’s state­ment fol­lows a raft of US$34 bil­lion (RM147.5 bil­lion) worth of bi­lat­eral deals signed be­tween Malaysia and China, in what is seen as a shift to­wards the Asian gi­ant, and away from the United States.

The deals were signed dur­ing a visit this month to China by Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Ab­dul Razak, who said ahead of the week­long trip that it would push ties be­tween the two na­tions to “new highs”.

The TPP can only pro­ceed if the US, which “con­sti­tutes about 60% of the to­tal TPP mem­bers’ GDP”, re­mains part of the deal, Mustapa said.

It can only take ef­fect if rat­i­fied by at least six coun­tries that have GDP mak­ing up 85% of the to­tal GDP of the 12 coun­tries in the pact, he added.

“There will be no TPPA with­out the US’ par­tic­i­pa­tion.”

Signed in Oc­to­ber 2015 af­ter more than five years of ne­go­ti­a­tions among the 12 Pa­cific Rim sig­na­to­ries, the TPP aims to cut trade bar­ri­ers in some of Asia’s fastest-grow­ing economies and boost ties with US al­lies in the re­gion, in the face of China’s ris­ing in­flu­ence.

Mustapa said a clearer pic­ture on the state of the TPP was ex­pected to emerge dur­ing dis­cus­sions on the side­lines of next week’s Apec Sum­mit in Lima, the Peru­vian cap­i­tal. – Reuters

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