KUALA LUMPUR: Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia have actually expressed interest to be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), said the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti).
Miti said this in its written response to issues raised by Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram recently that countries such as Thailand and the Philippines had opted to distance themselves from this treaty.
Contrary to the claims made by Jomo, both Thailand and Philippines have actually expressed their interest to be part of the TPPA, said the ministry.
On Nov 27, 2015, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak was quoted by Reuters as saying, “Thailand is highly interested in joining TPP. Chances are high that Thailand will seek to join TPP”.
On Oct 14, 2015, Philippine President Benigno Aquino was quoted by Reuters as saying, “We really want to participate in it. Joining TPP does make very good sense to us, especially because of those who are already in it, whom we find ourselves in very close alliances with, on so many different fronts”.
Miti added that on Oct 26, 2015, another Asean member, Indonesia, had also expressed interest to participate in the TPP.
President Joko Widodo was quoted by Reuters as saying, “We are the largest economy in South-East Asia. And Indonesia intends to join the TPP.”
On issues that the TPPA would undermine multilateral and bilateral trade agreements, Miti said as a trading nation with a small domestic market, it was imperative for Malaysia to be open and continue to trade with more nations.
“We have to diversify our trade and establish good relations with all countries.
“Malaysia will continue to be part of trade agreements which we think is in line with the interest of our nation.”
On Jomo’s remarks that Malaysia is merely an amateur but is going to an unknown territory where others are very experience, Miti said Malaysia had negotiated 13 bilateral and regional free trade agreements with both developed and developing countries.
“It is unfair therefore to say that Malaysia lacks the experience to be involved in a trade deal with other countries.
Throughout the TPPA negotiations, Malaysia stood firm that it will not compromise on its core policies such as the bumiputra agenda.
“We managed to explain the necessity of the affirmative action policy to other TPPA countries and defended our interest till the very end.
“This goes to show that we have the ability to negotiate on our terms and make our voices heard by other developed nations, thus dispelling the claim that Malaysia is merely an amateur,” said Miti.
On the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), Miti said the provision cut both ways.
“While it protects foreign investments in our country, it also provides protection for Malaysian companies which are operating overseas.
“ISDS is more important than ever now for our companies given that as of the third quarter 2015, our direct investment abroad stood at RM601.6bil, which exceeded our foreign direct investment of RM500.2bil,” according to the statement. - Bernama