Call to ratify RCEP and CPTPP by year-end

KUALA LUMPUR: Business and association leaders from various industries in Malaysia were unanimous in their call for the government to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) free trade agreements (FTAs) as soon as possible.

This is because the country is at risk of losing out on gross domestic product (GDP) growth opportunities that are now being captured by countries that are already a part of the RCEP and CPTPP.

“We seek the Malaysian government to ratify the RCEP and the CPTPP by the end of 2021 to gain early movers advantage and strengthen the economy while fortifying stronger partnerships with other Asean member states and signatory countries of the both trading blocs. This will ensure a sustainable economic recovery for Malaysia and the region,” the Asean Business Advisory Council (BAC) Malaysian chapter’s chairman Tan Sri Abdul Munir Majid said in his presentation yesterday.

Speaking at the Asean-BAC 2021 RCEP and CPTPP as Game Changers in Asean’s Post Covid-19 Economic Recovery forum, Munir said that this matter was now in the government’s hand as it looked forward to both the FTAs being ratified eventually.

“Trade associations, chambers of commerce and professional bodies including foreign business associations and business councils in Malaysia have recognised that the ratification of both RCEP and CPTPP would position Malaysia as a gateway to the participating countries’ markets as it provides opportunities for businesses by offering market access to nearly a third of the world’s population,” Munir said.

He said this had become even more relevant given the effects of Covid-19 on the economy.

In her presentation, former secretary general of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry and executive director of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation secretariat Tan Sri Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria said ratifying both FTAs was crucial for the country to continue to be relevant to the regional and global value supply chains.

“This is not negotiations for short-term gain but we are looking for long-term benefits: where do we want to see our country in five or 10 years from now? And how do we want to get there and what do we need to do: bearing in mind that the RCEP and CPTPP are the pathways to the free trade area of the Asia-Pacific. This is a proposal by the business community themselves and FTAs like the CPTPP set the standard for international rules moving forward,” she added.

While Malaysia had agreed and signed the CPTPP and RCEP on March 8, 2018 and Nov 15, 2020 respectively; the country has yet to ratify both the FTAs.

“The ratification of the CPTPP at the earliest date possible will contribute to Malaysia’s post-pandemic recovery. Don’t wait too long or we will lose all opportunities and long-term gains when we don’t ratify these FTAs,” chairman of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said.

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