Friday, May 29, 2015Friday, May 29, 2015

No fixed timetable for conclusion of TPP free trade agreement: Malaysian PM Najib

Published on May 22, 2014 9:12 PM
Malaysia PM Najib Razak gives his keynote speech at the 20th Nikkei Conference in Tokyo, Japan. -- ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said that the ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement would strengthen his country's economic links, but hinted at lingering public opposition at home to the 12-nation pact.

Speaking at a Nikkei conference on Thursday, he said that the complexity of trade negotiations and deals could be "mistaken for conspiracy" and called for greater public engagement to ward off the risk of "public disaffection" that could scuttle a possible deal.

His remarks come at a time when there is growing pessimism of an early conclusion of the trade pact, which is expected to result in greater trade and investment, innovation, and jobs among partner countries.

During US President Barack Obama's visit to Japan in April, he and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe failed to break a deadlock in negotiations over the reduction of tariffs in agricultural products, a major stumbling block to a conclusion of the TPP.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!