TPPA a bad deal for Malaysia: UN expert

07 Oct 2015 / 05:39 H.

    KUALA LUMPUR: United Nations assistant director-general and coordinator for economic and social development, food and agriculture organisation, Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram has called on the government not to join the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) as it provides little benefit for Malaysia.
    “I am extremely disappointed. I think it is going to affect, not only the Malaysian business community, but also Malaysian consumers and citizens adversely,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Khazanah Megatrend Forum 2015 yesterday.
    On Monday, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) said the recently concluded TPPA negotiations had agreed to take into consideration almost all of Malaysia’s concerns and sensitivities such as government procurement, state-owned enterprises and bumiputra issues.
    The TPP is a trade agreement initiative involving 12 countries namely Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.
    Miti said the TPPA will be presented to parliament once the complete and official text of the agreement is prepared.
    Bloomberg reported that Malaysia’s state-owned enterprises may suffer from the deal, which calls for equal access to government procurement even though electronics, chemical products, palm oil and rubber exporters benefit from it.
    Jomo said that the TPPA is politically motivated, in that it is an attempt by the US to try and isolate China, with minimum trade advantages for Malaysia.
    “For example, if Malaysia produces solar panels it can’t be sold in the US and elsewhere. These are all contravening the bilateral agreements. You cannot expect the TPPA to overcome that,” he explained.
    On intellectual property rights, Jomo said that the most significant implication is the cost of medication.
    “They have exclusive rights and have been depriving people from the benefits of this. This is scandalous and inhumane, it cannot explain why Malaysia agreed to this,” he said.
    In a statement late on Monday however, Miti had reiterated that the TPPA should not hinder the public’s access to affordable drugs and healthcare, while ensuring the necessary incentives for pharmaceutical innovators to produce new drugs and medicines.
    Even though there will be “small” benefits, Jomo said the government should look at it as a whole, especially from the cost perspective.
    He also said foreign complainants will have more legal resources for dispute settlement through new arbitration panels compared with those from developing countries.
    “Even in the negotiations, they (developing countries) are not very well prepared, and everyone knows most of the developing countries just accepted what was given to them. It was the developed countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Japan that were insisting on it and the US compromised to them,” he added.
    Meanwhile, Miti secretary-general Tan Sri Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria stressed that the full text of the TPPA will be made available to the public soon.
    “We’ve nothing to hide, at the end of the day, the important thing is we want to be sure this works for Malaysia,” she said.
    She does not foresee the TPPA taking effect in the next two years considering it has to be approved by every participating country.
    “It will be a long process, maybe two years or more, I don’t know,” she added.
    A cost benefit analysis commissioned by Miti to determine the attractiveness of the deal is yet to be completed.

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