Malaysia should be wary of IPEF participation

The wider geopolitical implications of joining the framework should be taken into consideration


MALAYSIA should look beyond the perceived economic benefits in joining the proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

Parti Pejuang Tanah Air international affairs chairman Tariq Ismail said Malaysia should consider the wider geopolitical implications of joining the regional framework even as it seeks to attract investments and grow the economy.

“While we understand the desperation for foreign investments, international trade and economic growth during this recovery period, hastily signing on to IPEF may not be the answer,” he said today.

He said ministers need to “scrutinise the IPEF to its minutest details and identify whether the laws and rules would essentially mean de-facto adoption of US laws and regulations to comply with IPEF”.

He said while Pejuang is not against the US, it is nevertheless in favour of a world where no nation holds hegemony.

“This is not unreasonable considering the fact that the US itself has been trending towards nationalistic rules of engagement, such as rules of commercial engagement which protect industries and supplies which are of national interest, or in other words, sectors which are crucial for their own sovereignty,” he said.

He reminded us that although post-Covid supply-side economic challenges had put the country in a tight spot, trade agreements are more often tied to non-economic conditions like humanitarian issues, environment and sustainability.

“While no one has been able to adequately assess and ponder over the terms under IPEF, it is not a stretch to imagine that the US will continue to use every tool available economically and socially to pressure Malaysia and other Asean countries to support their foreign policy.

“A codified framework such as IPEF will simply and is likely to formalise those pressure points to the US’ favour, and this is likely to include social and humanitarian causes as defined by US domestic policies,” he explained.

He urges the relevant ministries to have a special parliamentary session to outline IPEF’s details and consider the broader foreign policy implications of IPEF, and also to see if Malaysia could lead the charge in the possible ratification of IPEF for Asean, considering Asean intra-trade itself has not managed to comprehensively establish common trade standards, let alone common standards for IPEF trade.