Malaysia likely to miss CPTPP deadline


Malaysia will likely miss the February 2019 deadline set for first batch of countries to enforce the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking said Malaysia may need more time to amend the necessary laws in the CPTPP ratification process.

He said Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be briefed on the trade pact, and the government’s stand on the agreement will be known in the upcoming weeks.

“The PM is going through the agreement. He has some concerns, and it is our duty to advise him. Decision on the government’s stand will be known in weeks,” he told reporters after receiving courtesy calls from foreign envoys representing South Korea, Australia and the UK yesterday.

Since it is a signatory, Malaysia can join in the trade pact anytime after its enforced in February. The CPTPP was signed on March 8, 2018, by 11 countries — excluding the US — which were signatories of the now defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

The remaining countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These countries represent 13.4% of the global gross domestic product — making CPTPP one of the largest trade agreements after the North American Free Trade Agreement or Nafta.

All signatories were given a year from March 2018 to ratify the agreement in their respective country by legislation amendments, and Malaysia has yet to begin the process.

To-date, Mexico has ratified CPTPP, while Japan is completing its ratification process.

Former International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed had stated the government will need to table 26 amendments to 18 federal laws to ratify the then TPP deal.

Meanwhile, Leiking said he reaffirmed the new government’s business-friendly approach during the meetings with the envoys yesterday.

“I took the opportunity to reaffirm Malaysia’s position as an open economy with strong potential for investment, with the focus on attracting quality investments to create high value-added jobs with less reliance on foreign labour,” he said yesterday.

The minister also emphasised that the government will also support the promotion of free trade that takes into consideration the different levels of development among trading nations.