Azmin: CPTPP will not jeopardise country’s interest

pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will not affect the interests of Malaysians and instead offers various benefits for the country, said International Trade and Industry (MITI) Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (picture).

During his winding-up speech for Budget 2022 yesterday the minister highlighted several key points to rebuke claims made by Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who previously called for a review on the partnership during his debate in the Dewan Rakyat earlier this month.

Mohamed Azmin said the CPTPP will not affect the Bumiputera privileges and it will continue to be protected as stipulated in the Federal Constitution.

“There are various exemptions and flexibility with regards to Bumiputera rights under the CPTPP, among which include government’s procurement, subsidies distribution and the issuance of special license or permits.

“Bumiputera policies and privileges are one of the main pillars in the Federal Constitution and the government will not compromise in upholding those policies in any international agreement. The provision is stated in Annex II Non-Conforming Measures under the agreement,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

The minister was also responding to Kangar MP Noor Amin Ahmad who requested for an explanation on the partnership during his Budget 2022 debate previously.

On the government procurement, Mohamed Azmin said the CPTPP enables the government to continue to help develop local and Bumiputera companies.

Among the concessions given is the government is allowed to allocate up to 30% of the value from procurement contracts to Bumiputera contractors.

The minister also refuted claims that a large number of the provisions under CPTPP are non-trade elements.

He said there are 23 chapters in the CPTPP that encompass law and trade elements that are also contained in other free trade agreements currently enforced in the country.

“Secondly, the reality is the ecosystem of international trade does not exist in a vacuum where only trade elements are at play.

“At this point, we can see a growing global trend that emphasises on non-trade elements. For example, there are countries that set requirements on environment and labour standards as preconditions for entry of export goods,” he said.

He added the CPTPP emphasises on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property (IP) that is meant to spur innovation and technology transfer.

The provision contained in the IP chapter of the agreement is conducive for the benefit of the social and economic position of the country, he said.

“Therefore, the government’s interest in terms of IP will not be affected because the current practice in the country relating to the patent protection period can continue,” added the minister.

Previously, Anwar urged the government to review its plans for ratification of the CPTPP instead of pushing for it due to pressure from bigger economies.

He said although Malaysia supports FTA, the government should also safeguard the country’s interest by reviewing the policies stated under the agreement.

“There are certain policies that we need to look at such as those about employment, affirmative action and government procurement which will be stunted if we follow CPTPP rules as we need to adhere to international standards.

“If we follow the regulations, local companies will have no hope due to the competition, as well as state owned enterprises and IP which will be affected,” he said.