M’sia to push legislative changes for CPTPP?

It is imperative for Malaysia to be a part of the ‘entry force’ as one of the major beneficiaries of the trade agreement

By D KANYAKUMARI / Pic By TMR

The government should look into pushing the necessary legislative changes in order to be the entry force in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) that Malaysia stands to lose out given the fact that participating countries are looking at expanding their markets.

“This is especially important for countries that we do not have bilateral trade agreements with.

“It will be a missed opportunity when it comes to prospects of greater business sentiments because of our entry into the trade block,” he said.

Yeah also said Malaysia has been identified as one of the major beneficiaries of the trade agreement, adding that it would be a failure on Malaysia’s part to not capitalise on the potential growth opportunities brought from the CPTPP.

“As for the trade dispute settlement mechanism (Investor State Dispute Settlement [ISDS]), given that other countries may see some negotiations related to it, it will not be on us for a multinational (company) to sue us.

“Malaysia has stated its position clearly. Now, with the US not in the agreement, we may have some compromises,” he explained.

Yeah stressed that according to the ISDS, foreign investors could sue a government using international laws, for not protecting investments and added that if foreign investors did not get their return on investment, then the investors could sue the governments that signed the agreement.

Centre for Public Policy Studies chairman Tan Sri Dr Ramon Navaratnam, however, said the government should not rush into making legislative decisions.

“If this is how things are being done at the moment, obviously the government does not think that it is imperative for them to make the changes immediately.

“Perhaps, they want to be more democratic before finally deciding on the legislative constraints,” he said when contacted by TMR recently.

“Honestly speaking, changing or amending laws is not easy at all and I can understand that. It is best that they take their time to avoid any sort of slipshod adjustments to the law.

“When you change the law in a hurry, you are bound to make mistakes, and that will cause more problems in the future,” he said.

Asked about the ISDS, Ramon said it is now up to the government to make provisions in the best interest of Malaysia.

“We have not seen the law. It has not been made accessible to the public. So, it would depend on the government to look into the best interest of the people, country and the economy.

On Monday, Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem told the Dewan Rakyat that there are nine more laws (18 legislative amendments) that needed to be drafted and amended to allow Malaysia to qualify into the first batch of CPTPP.
“To make those amendments, or

drafts, in this short period of one year, or even two years from now is impossible. It is impossible for a holistic review to be done,” he said.

In February, International Trade and Industry (MITI) Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed had said that his ministry is working towards making all 18 legislative amendments before January 2019.

“It is definitely going to be a challenge to amend 18 legislations in one year. Especially with the elections looming, we will only have two Parliament sessions.

“We have been told that it cannot be done, however, MITI is doing everything in its capacity to push for the legislations to be amended,” he said, adding that it is important for Malaysia to be one of the first six countries to make domestic amendments to complete the ratification process for the agreement to take effect.

He explained that it is imperative for Malaysia to be a part of the “entry force”.

On March 8, 11 Asia-Pacific countries signed the trade agreement in Chile.

The original TPP Agreement, which included the US, was revised as the TPP-11 after the US pulled out in January 2017.

Following that in November 2017, all the existing parties to the agreement met at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, and reaffirmed their commitment to the agreement and renamed it as CPTPP.