Malaysia can’t insist on own terms if it joins TPPA late

By Ida Lim

Mustapa said other countries who came onboard the TPPA in the future would have to join based on the terms already agreed by the current 12 nations. — Bernama picBernama KUALA LUMPUR — Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said Malaysia could have been at a disadvantage if it had joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) at a later stage.

The Minister for International Trade and Industry pointed out that Malaysia has been able to secure favourable terms in the TPPA regarding Bumiputera interests and the inclusion of a term on halal products.

“If 2020, we say (we are) losing out, want to join the TPPA, then maybe we won’t be able to get Bumiputera, we won’t be able to get halal. We have to go on their terms,” he told a packed hall at Menara Miti during a townhall session on the TPPA.

Mustapa said other countries may want to come onboard the TPPA in the future but they would have to join based on the terms already agreed by the current 12 nations.

“But if we join in this period, it will be better, on our own terms,” he said.

During his presentation, Mustapa had highlighted Article 7.3 (2) of the TPPA of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Chapter, which states “Nothing in this Chapter prevents a Party from adopting or maintaining halal requirements for food and food products in accordance with Islamic law”.

“I want to tell you I was the one who fought for this. So let there not be people who said with TPP, we can’t use the halal certificate, that’s not true,” he said, calling such claims “misinformation” and “lies” that should be halted.

On November 18, Prime Minister Najib Razak was as reported saying that Malaysia as an original member of the TPPA group had the advantage of shaping its terms and outcome, pointing out the protection of Bumiputera interests as an area which Malaysia successfully insisted on.

On October 5, Malaysia and 11 other nations — US, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam — concluded negotiations on the TPPA.

Mustapa said today that a briefing on the TPPA will be given to federal lawmakers next January before they vote on the agreement.

“This is unprecedented, there has never been a bipartisan caucus in Parliament,” he said, adding that there will be a briefing in the morning followed by a workshop for the MPs in the afternoon.

The reports on the cost and benefit analysis of Malaysia joining the TPPA has already been presented to the Cabinet and is expected to be released to the public within two weeks after the printing of “tens of thousands” of the copies is done, Mustapa said.