Malaysia reaffirms commitment to transpacific trade pact

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia will go ahead with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), said Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, in a reaffirmation of the country's commitment to the wide-ranging trade pact involving 11 nations.

Tun Dr Mahathir, asked about his position on the CPTPP during an interview with a Thai television network last week, said: "After the US pullout from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the condition which allows companies to sue governments is no longer something we need to fear. Also, there is less overwhelming dominance of America over the other countries.

"The previous (Malaysian) government had signed to become a member. We can't withdraw without losing credibility, so we will have to go ahead with the CPTPP."

Malaysia, together with 10 other countries - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam - signed the free trade agreement in March.

The agreement sets out how member countries can trade freely and openly with each other in a rules-based trading system.

The pact is a rebranded Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that "collapsed" after the United States withdrew in January last year under President Donald Trump.

As a whole, the CPTPP is expected to generate an additional US$147 billion (S$200 billion) in global income. Its members account for about 13.5 per cent of the global economy, with a combined market of 500 million people.

ALMOST DONE DEAL

The previous (Malaysian) government had signed to become a member. We can't withdraw without losing credibility, so we will have to go ahead with the CPTPP.

MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER MAHATHIR MOHAMAD

The next step before the pact comes into force is when six of the 11 countries ratify the agreement. So far, Singapore, Mexico and Japan have ratified it. Australia and Chile have indicated that they will follow suit by year-end.

 

The ratification question seems to be uppermost on the minds of Malaysian officials in recent weeks after several rounds of briefing to the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. It is understood that several Pakatan Harapan ministers are for the pact while others have their reservations.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2018, with the headline 'Malaysia reaffirms commitment to transpacific trade pact'. Print Edition | Subscribe