Dr M calls for TPP review to aid weaker members


Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture) called for a revision of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to protect the interests of small and weaker economies, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.

Certain terms that the US inserted before it withdrew from the framework placed countries such as Malaysia at a disadvantage, Dr Mahathir was cited as saying.

He didn’t say if he’d consider leaving the pact, which was supported by the previous government that lost power in elections last month.

“It is important to take into consideration the level of development of a country,” Dr Mahathir told the paper.

“Small, weaker economies must be given a chance to protect their products.”

President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the accord during his first week in office, citing threats to American workers.

The pact — which was conceived as a counterweight to China’s rising economic power in the region — had been negotiated under the Barack Obama administration, but never approved by Congress.

The current version of the TPP promises strong protection for intellectual property, expands free-trade rules beyond agriculture and services, and embraces the digital economy.

South-East Asian nations, along with China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, are working toward an agreement by the end of this year to create an alternative trading bloc called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

If achieved, the regional partnership would cover one-third of the world’s economy and almost half its population. — Bloomberg