Mustapa (right) along with Deputy Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan after their session at Parliament yesterday. — Bernama photo
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is less interested in continuing with the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), with the United States (US) having opted out.
Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said Malaysia along Vietnam, Singapore and Brunei joined the TPPA with the aim of gaining better access to markets, particularly the US.
“The withdrawal of the US from the TPPA makes the trade deal less attractive for Malaysia to continue with negotiations, as it does not satisfy the need or objective of the country’s participation,” he added.
He said this when fielding 18 questions related to the impact of the US withdrawal from the TPPA, the status of the trade deal and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), as well as the Malaysia-US trade partnership in Parliament yesterday.
Mustapa added that there were still a handful of countries as Japan and New Zealand, still keen on proceeding with the agreement.
With US President Donald Trump having announced the TPPA withdrawal on Jan 23, the other countries involved in the negotiations were forced to review their views on its course of direction.
“I expect a more detailed discussion to take place during the APEC Minister’s meeting in Vietnam in May.
“It would include the question of whether the TPPA could also involve the other APEC economies as China, South Korea and Russia.
At this juncture, it is too early to answer all the related questions,” he added.
According to Mustapa, although the potential of access to markets would reduce without the US in the TPPA, Malaysia will continue to amend specific laws to enhance the rules and regulations in place at present.
As a trading nation that practices an open economic policy, the failure to implement the TPPA represents a missed opportunity for Malaysian companies to compete more effectively, specifically in the Asia Pacific region.
As such, Malaysia is being active in a series of other bilateral FTA negotiations as with Iran, Sri Lanka and the European Union as well as the RCEP.
On the expenses incurred, Mustapa said about RM15 million had been spent by the government to finance 15 ministries and agencies involved in the TPPA negotiations.
“A major portion of the spending involved logistics costs such as flight tickets to long haul destinations as the US, Canada and Peru,” he added. — Bernama