TOKYO: Malaysia is not against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), but it now favours the formation of the East Asia Economic Caucus (EAEC).
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the country needed to renegotiate the terms of the TPPA so that smaller countries were 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 were objections from the United States but now that country is in isolation,” the Prime Minister said during a dialogue at the 24th Nikkei Conference on the Future of Asia held here yesterday.
The EAEC, he said, should no longer involve only Asean members and East Asian countries, but also include 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 the majority’s decision and not try to bulldoze its own views.
The EAEC was a regional free trade zone proposed by Dr Mahathir in 1997 to include Asean members and China, Japan and South Korea.
But the proposal never took off due to strong objections from the United States at the time.
It then evolved into the annual 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 would not reject the voice of a grouping,” he said.