Under pressure from the a larger coalition against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, the Malaysian Cabinet has decided to stick to several “red lines” and to drop any timeline for the signing of the disputed trade deal, a senior government official said last week in Kuala Lumpur.
The campaign led by the Bantah TPPA coalition of nongovernment organisations and joined by the Malaysian Opposition’s strong stance against what they call an attempt by the US to impose its brand of economic model of total free market in Malaysia has apparently paid-off.
Despite major issues, including state-owned enterprises, labour and internat iona l property rights remaining unresolved, the Cabinet, at a special cabinet meeting on the major trade deal, decided that it should not be bound by a fixed timeline on the agreement.
“The Cabinet has also agreed to two more cost-benefit analyses which will focus on the interests of small and medium enterprises, the Bumiputera business community as well as a comprehensive analysis of national interests,” International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said last Friday.
Under the TPP, Malaysia will become an integral part of the greater economic integration with the Asia-Pacific region. Though there will be access to products and services as well as purported bigger markets, the country will also be at risk of several negative impacts that will influence the economic security of the nation.
On the other hand, Party Keadilaan Rakyat (PKR) said it feared the TPP was an attempt by the US to impose its brand of economic model of total free market, laissez-faire approach, deregulation and small government.
“The glaring absence of China, South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia in the TPP lends credence to this belief. It promotes primarily US economic, business and geopolitical interests,” said PKR defacto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in a statement.
Bantah TPPA said, in a separate statement, it was satisfied the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak and his Cabinet’s had unanimously given assurance last Friday that Malaysia’s participation in the proposed TPP agreement in reinforcing Malaysia’s position that the government will only agree to the TPP agreement, if its terms are most favourable to the country.
“It should also be noted that Bantah — as a coalition that enjoys the support of more than 60 groups and 10 coalitions of groupings from a variety of backgrounds, membership and advocating a plethora of issues — will also hold the Cabinet to account for the above promises and assurances — as well as the other statements made in the past by representatives of Government over the TPP agreement,” according to a statement signed by Blindspot/Bantah TPPA deputy chairman Azlan Awang.
The coalition is concerned, moreover, that much of the promises and assurances remain just that — until it gets more information and sees that such “concerns” and “considerations” have been accepted by the other 11 member nations.
Apart from Malaysia, the negotiations also involve Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.