Talks on TPP still under way, says Mustapa

Source: The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: A cost-benefit analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal will be ready soon, according to International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

The US-initiated TPP covers nearly 40% of the global economy and includes 12 countries. A meeting was recently held in Hawaii by delegations and while progress has been made on the negotiations, several key issues, including next-generation drugs, autos and dairy products, remain on the table.

Mustapa said the analysis, done by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia, would be ready in the next few days. The analysis focuses on national and overall interests.

He said the final document, together with the two cost-benefit analyses, would be presented to the public and Parliament once completed.

“The agreement is so controversial, that is why we are doing the analysis. We believe Malaysia will benefit from it, but it’s subject to the Parliament’s decision.

“We have made a commitment to the public that we would do a cost-benefit analysis and it’s almost done. We will continue to engage with various stakeholders, and of course, there might be amendments to some laws,” Mustapa added.

He noted that negotiations were ongoing without any conclusions, with the earliest for the talks to be concluded at the end of 2017 or early-2018.

“There had been expectations that the negotiations would be substantially concluded by the end of July in Hawaii, but that did not happen. We don’t know when this will happen. I cannot say with any degree of certainty it will happen,” Mustapa said.

He said he believed that the trade pact, considered a “gold-standard” agreement, would be beneficial for the country’s trade and investment.

Malaysia has concluded negotiations with most of the TPP countries, who, in turn, have agreed to provide good market access opportunities to Malaysia. This would allow local products better access to countries Malaysia does not have free trade agreements with, namely, the United States, Canada, Mexico and Peru.

Mustapa said this would, in turn, give a competitive advantage to Malaysian exports such as electrical and electronic products, chemical products, palm oil products, rubber products, wood products, textiles as well as automotive parts and components.

On intellectual property rights, Malaysia will ensure that the public will continue to have access to affordable drugs and health care while providing the necessary incentives to innovators to produce new drugs.

Points of concern in the TPP talks for Malaysia include exemptions for state-owned enterprises for entities such as Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Petroliam Nasional Bhd, as well as government procurement policy and data protection for biologics such as gene therapies and vaccines.


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