TOKYO: Malaysia is not against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) but is now favouring the formation of the East Asia Economic Caucus (EAEC).
“We need to renegotiate the terms of the TPPA so that smaller countries are given due consideration to compete against more powerful and developed nations.
“And yes, I am still in favour of the EAEC. In the past, there have been objections from the United States but now that the US is in isolation,” said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) during a dialogue at the 24th Nikkei Conference on the Future of Asia here on Monday (June 11).
He said the EAEC should now no longer include just Asean members and East Asian countries but also those in Central Asia and India.
“We can’t exclude these countries from a framework that will affect them,” he said, adding that the United States might even be invited to join if it could accept a majority decision and not try to impose its own opinion.
The EAEC was a regional free trade zone proposed by Dr Mahathir in 1997 and would encompass Asean members as well as China, Japan and South Korea.
However, the proposal never took off due to strong objections from the US at the time.
A form of the EAEC has however emerged in the form of the yearly Asean Plus Three meetings.
Dr Mahathir said it was also better for countries to negotiate peacefully with China as part of a regional grouping as weaker and smaller countries would have a better say.
“Even China will not reject the voice of a grouping,” he said.
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