TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad has indicated it is possible for Malaysia to ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) before year-end when the free trade agreement comes into force.
However, the Prime Minister insisted that a study be conducted on its effects on wealth distribution among the races in the country.
“Malaysia is different from other countries; we are a multiracial country and the distribution of wealth between the races is not fair; some are rich and some are poor.
“The disparities between the rich and poor even in a single ethnic country will lead to violence and confrontation, what more if the poor belongs to one race and the rich belongs to another race.
“For that reason, we have to study the terms of the agreement to see if it affects our efforts to distribute wealth in the country in an equitable manner,” he said.
Asked if Malaysia was willing to lose its first mover advantage as it was among the 11 pioneer countries, he said: “We will study that.”
Australia became the sixth country to ratify the CPTPP, meeting the threshold codified by its members to bring it into force on Dec 30.
The CPTPP covers economies representing around 16% of the global economic output.
It includes cuts to tariff and non-tariff barriers among its members and is designed around high standards on human rights and environment, and labour practices.
During a bilateral talk with his counterpart Shinzo Abe on Tuesday, it is understood that the Japanese leader expressed hopes that Malaysia would make the right decision and ratify the FTA.
Japan took the lead in reviving what was originally known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that collapsed when the United States withdrew last year.
The 11 countries – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam – concluded their negotiations and renamed it CPTPP.
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