New Straits Times
US withdrawal ‘very serious mistake’, says former negotiator
NEW YORK: In the wake of recent efforts to revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Japan’s initiative, former United States deputy trade representative Wendy Cutler said the US withdrawal is a “very serious mistake”.
Cutler, who was a TPP negotiator and vice-president and managing director of Asia Society Policy Institute’s (ASPI) Washington office, said “one of the most unfortunate things” the Trump administration did very early in its tenure was to withdraw the US from the TPP.
She was attending a discussion on US President Donald Trump’s relationship with Asia, moderated by ASPI managing director Debra Eisenman, at the Asia Society, here, yesterday.
Cutler said one year after Trump’s announcement to withdraw, the remaining 11 TPP members got together to “put that deal into effect without the US”.
They reached an agreement last month to form the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
It comprises Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
“This suggests that the US is not getting the benefit from the TPP and has to keep in mind that other countries are filling the vacuum as the US has exited from the kind of economic leadership in the region,” said Cutler.
She cautioned that China was trying to fill the vacuum left by the US withdrawal and pointed to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech in Davos, Switzerland, last year, who said China would be the leader of “inclusive globalisation that it was a free trade country and anti-protectionist”.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet was expected to give its formal endorsement for Malaysia to join the CPTPP soon, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
“We will be getting the formal endorsement from the Cabinet soon,” he said at the Malaysia Digital Economy Forum in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.