TPP Debate Special—Articles on TPP by Sanya Reid Smith


Workshop on TPP by Sanya Reid Smith, from the Third World Network

Sanya Reid Smith. Source: Public Services International (; taken from
Sanya Reid Smith. Source: Public Services International (; taken from brings to you a series of articles based on a recent NGO briefing on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Malaysia by Ms Sanya Reid Smith, an expert on Trade and Investment Rules. She has been monitoring the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) since 2011, and is also the resource expert for Bantah TPPA Malaysia.

The entire talk is uploaded on YouTube in a seven part series and can be accessed here. As topics covered within the talk were very extensive, we took the liberty to transcribe and reorganise the content into a structure that will hopefully benefit those who are still grappling with the implications of signing or not signing the controversial trade agreement. This multi-part series will look at TPPA Basics, Stakeholders, Impacts, and Miscellaneous Topics. The index of the series can be found on the introduction.

TPPA Workshop by Sanya Reid Smith: Introduction

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

This article introduces the TPPA and covers some background of Malaysia’s past FTA negotiation with the US. Read more


TPP Basics: Before Signing

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

In this article, the negotiation process behind the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is explained. Negotiated for five years behind closed doors, the full and final text of the TPP agreement was released on 5 November to be deliberated upon in member countries. The controversial trade agreement is slated to be signed on 4 February 2016 in New Zealand, and will come into effect if more than 6 countries with at least 85% of the GDP of the original signatories ratify it. Read more


TPP Basics: After Signing

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

What happens after signing the TPPA? In this article, the ratification and certification processes are covered, with a focus on how the US can demand more concessions during these processes. It is recommended to first read the Introduction for the context, and also the earlier part of the process on the TPP negotiation, before the signing of the TPP. Read more


TPP Basics: What-ifs

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

What if we don’t sign? What if we don’t comply? What if we want to withdraw? In this article we address the commonly heard concerns on the TPP from the Malaysian perspective. Read more


TPP Basics: Investment Chapter/ISDS

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

In this article, we address the investment chapter and the Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). The investment chapter can be seen as a bill of rights for investors, and can affect regulations at all levels of government. It overrides other chapters such as those on environment and labour, and is very enforceable given that there are economic sanctions and legal recourse for non-compliance. It is also noted that many other countries are withdrawing from similar investment treaties that have the ISDS. Why is Malaysia entering into one? Read more


TPP Basics: Export Taxes on Goods

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

Export taxes have the function of keeping raw materials’ prices cheap within the country, so that local value-adding industries can thrive. However, under the TPP, Malaysia’s ability to adjust export taxes is restricted, potentially opening up a situation of economic colonialisation where developed countries in the TPP will be able to import raw materials for cheap, and export finished goods back to Malaysia, harming the local industries. Read more


TPP Basics: Liberalisation of Services

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

The gist of the TPPA content on services is that all service sectors should be liberalised for foreign investment, unless member countries specify exceptions. The TPPA full text shows that Malaysia did not get as many exceptions as other countries. The services and investment chapter is binding across all levels of government (federal, state and local), and restricts the governments’ ability to put in laws and regulations for services. Read more


TPP Stakeholders: Taxpayers and Citizens

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

This article is of interest to taxpayers and citizens in Malaysia. Mainly it touches upon cases where investors from other TPP countries can sue the Malaysian government at an international tribunal under investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS), and the costs incurred; and also the effect that the TPP has on electoral promises which run counter to the TPP. Read more


TPP Stakeholders: Business Owners and Investors

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

This article is of interest to Malaysian business owners and investors. For local business owners, protections on infant industries will be removed within the TPP, and competition from other TPP member countries will make it difficult for Malaysian businesses to move up the value chain. For Malaysian investors who have investments overseas, most of their investor rights are already guaranteed under existing treaties and domestic courts overseas. Otherwise, there are many other safeguards that Malaysian investors can turn to without the TPP, such as negotiating better contracts, getting insurance, or performing due diligence to protect their own investments. These will ensure the safety of their investments, without restricting Malaysia’s policy space in the process. Read more


TPP Stakeholders: Students

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

This article is of interest to students and those concerned about how the TPPA will affect education in Malaysia. The main impact will come from restrictions on intellectual property rights on educational materials and books, therefore impairing access to knowledge. Read more


TPP Stakeholders: Patients

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

This article is of interest to patients and those concerned about how the TPPA will affect public health and medicine in Malaysia. Access to medicine in Malaysia will be affected by stronger intellectual property rights, and patients can expect high medicine costs for longer. We will also cover some basics on intellectual property rights. Read more


TPP Stakeholders: Farmers

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

This article is of interest to farmers and those concerned about how the TPPA will affect agriculture and food security in Malaysia. The Malaysian farmers will face challenges from US domestic subsidies (to their own farmers), and stronger intellectual property rights for their inputs. Read more


TPP Impacts: On the economy

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

What is the impact of TPP on the economy? In this article, we explore this topic from different angles, such as trade balance and GDP growth. Malaysia’s trade balance will worsen if we join the TPP, by USD12bil a year, because imports will increase instead of exports. Claims that Malaysia’s GDP will grow are dubious, due to unrealistic assumptions of the PricewaterhouseCoopers study. Read more


TPP Impacts: On the Environment

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

There is an environmental chapter in the TPPA, but the language is weak and vague. It also does not address pressing issues like climate change. Potential negative impacts by the TPP on the environment come mainly from ISDS, where investors can sue governments for lessening their profits through environmental regulations. The investment chapter overrides the environmental chapter if there are conflicts. Read more


TPP Impacts: Sovereignty

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

This article explains how the TPPA can affect member countries’ ability to govern themselves. It focuses on the Malaysian perspective, and looks at why developing countries like Malaysia need to update laws constantly for new developments in current affairs, and how the TPPA might restrict that. There have been cases of the US interfering with law making in countries such as Peru and Australia. Read more


TPP Impacts: Governance

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

In this article we talk about how the TPP will affect state governance in member countries. Governance is the processes through which a country is run, and the interactions between different governmental and non-governmental entities to make decisions based on national interest. How will the TPPA work within the relationships between federal, state and local governments? What about issues of corruption and law breaking? Read more


TPP Miscellaneous: Geopolitics

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

What happens if we sign or don’t sign, from a geopolitical point of view? What is the TPP’s connection with China, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the other FTA currently being negotiated between China, ASEAN, and 5 other countries? What about other countries who have expressed interest to join the TPP? Could the TPPA be used as a political tool by the US towards other countries? Read more


TPP Miscellaneous: Corporate dominance in the US

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

In this article, we answer a question from the public: “Why is the US pushing to protect the private sector?” In sum, the US government answers to their campaign financiers, and they also respond to their cleared advisor committees within the TPPA negotiations, composed mostly of multinational company representatives. Lastly, we learn that the Americans are not united in their opinions on some provisions of the TPP either. Where there are winners, there will be losers – even within the US itself. Read more


TPP Miscellaneous: The Yarn Forward Rule

By Jun-E Tan, Sanya Reid Smith

In this article, we explain the Yarn Forward Rule as a case of how in certain cases, the benefits of zero tariffs on exports provided by the TPP are negated because of other imposed rules in certain industries. The Yarn Forward Rule is a rule that forces the textile industries in TPP countries to buy yarn from within the TPP. The rule favours the US yarn industry, and limits TPP countries’ ability to buy cheap yarn (for instance, from China) to make their textiles. As such, the end price in the USA of the zero-tariff Malaysian product is likely to be higher than the taxed products from competing non-TPP countries such as China, which will restrict the expected increase in Malaysian textile and clothing exports to the USA under the TPP. Read more


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