Resurrection of the TPPA?

According to Najib, the matter is open for discussion

By D KANYAKUMARI / Pic By TMR

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) — which has been in doubt following the US’ exit — has a future, but time is required to iron out the details.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak said although there is no official consensus among the 11 TPPA members over the agreement, the matter is open for discussion.

“It does not mean the agreement has been buried. We just need more time to achieve an agreement that works for everyone.

“This matter needs to be looked at from two aspects and those are from the political aspect and a substantive aspect,” Najib said in a posting in his blog on Saturday.

He added that there were certain quarters who had said that they need to wait before making any decisions.

“They explained that it was because of domestic political challenges which need to be handled.

“Also, each of the countries involved is looking out for their own interest before agreeing to anything. So, we certainly need more time,” he said.

TPPA talks were held on the sidelines of the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, since Nov 6.

Najib said he believes the TPPA is the best way to generate wealth and create a win-win position for everybody.

“The TPPA is supposed to be a significant building block towards the Asean Free Trade Area, in transforming the entire region into a free trade area,” he said.

Meanwhile, the 11 TPPA countries have reached an agreement to proceed with the trade pact which has been renamed as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

In a statement, the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) said following the withdrawal of the US from the TPPA, the remaining countries had decided the way forward to implement the agreement was by suspending a limited number of provisions, while maintaining its high standard and comprehensive nature.

The ministerial statement and details of the agreement were made public and available on the MITI website.

The statement said that the ministers had also agreed that 20 provisions would be suspended before the final signing of the agreement.

MITI Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed confirmed that among the provisions agreed for suspension that were of interest to Malaysia included biologics, patent term adjustment and copyrights.

He said Malaysia would continue to work closely with other countries in the work programme as part of efforts to finalise the outstanding issues.

“The signing of the CPTPP will be decided by all parties once all the technical work and outstanding issues are finalised. Following the signing, the agreement is open for rectification. The agreement will enter into force once six signatures have ratified it.

“Overall, we believe that the benefits from the CPTPP will outweigh its costs in the context of Malaysia. Our continued involvement in the CPTPP is a testament of Malaysia’s commitment to globalisation and multilateralism.

“Another consideration for Malaysia is the impact to our economy should we decide not to join the CPTPP, while the remaining 10 countries move ahead,” he added.

Even without the US, the remaining 11 countries of the CPTPP weigh considerable economic might with a total trade of US$356 billion (RM1.49 trillion) last year.