Mustapa: TPP deal nowhere near conclusion | Free Malaysia Today

Mustapa Mohamed said there are controversial and sensitive issues to be addressed even before talking about concluding the agreement.

By P Prem Kumar

KUALA LUMPUR: The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement negotiations are far from nearing completion due to the continuous existence of “red lines” in the negotiating process.

Malaysia International Trade and Industry (MITI) Minister Mustapa Mohamed (pic) said the red lines, which are controversial and sensitive to several nations, including Malaysia, have to be addressed even before talking about concluding the agreement.

“We need to look at all the issues, and unless the red lines are dealt with, we are in no position to sign the agreement,” he said last Friday.

Mustapa also said the TPP trade ministers would be meeting again at the end of this month in Singapore, and a fresh deadline might be announced there.

“The formal deadline has been extended many times, the last being December 2013.

We will not decide on the next deadline until the TPPA ministers meeting in Singapore from Feb 22-25,” he added.

The TPPA is being negotiated among 12 countries – the US, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei – which represents more than 40% of the world’s gross domestic product.

A key stumbling block was said to be US’s refusal to yield on the contentious Investor- State Dispute Settlement clause of the agreement, which critics contend would open signatory states to legal action by private corporations if any law was deemed harmful to a firm’s commercial interests.

Some member states are concerned over the insistence of the US to reintroduce a “Transparency Annexe on Medicine” that was overwhelmingly discarded in previous rounds of negotiations.

In Malaysia, the meteoric emergence of anti-TPP movements have battered Malaysia’s effort of justifying the TPP’s benefit to the economy and the public.

The call to drop the TPP agreement is being led by former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, among others.

The government, through the ministry has commenced two cost-benefit studies, of which the summary and the final draft of the TPP agreement will be presented to the Parliament for approval.

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