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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia