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Malaysia will not sign TPPA in Hawaii, says Mustapa

Malaysia will not sign TPPA in Hawaii, says Mustapa
MUSTAPA: Our objective at this meeting is to ensure that Malaysia's interests and concerns are addressed. - File pic
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will not sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) at the ministerial meeting in Hawaii from July 28-31, says Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

Mustapa, who heads the Malaysian negotiating team comprising experts from over 20 ministries and agencies, said: "The signing of the TPPA will not happen in Hawaii."

In a statement today, he said, like Malaysia, each TPPA member will need to go through its own domestic process before a final decision to sign and ratify the pact was made.

"As the minister in charge of the TPPA talks, it is my responsibility to ensure that our constitution, sovereignty and core policies of the nation, including the interests of the Bumiputera community, are safeguarded and upheld.

"Our objective at this meeting is to ensure that Malaysia's interests and concerns are addressed," he said.

He said after five years, the TPPA negotiations are nearing conclusion and at this stage countries need to make hard decisions.

"As in all negotiations there are concessions that need to be made," he said.
He said the government has taken a firm stand in the TPPA, in which the country's constitution, sovereignty and core policies such as government procurement, state­-owned enterprises and the Bumiputera agenda will be safeguarded.

"I urge Malaysians to keep an open mind on the TPPA. Acknowledge that while there are costs, there are also benefits to the country," he said.

Mustapa said the feedback from all parties regarding TPPA has helped guide and influence his negotiating stance on various issues under discussion.

He said ultimately, the final document, together with the two cost-and-benefit analyses will be presented to the public and Parliament.

The decision whether to sign or reject TPPA will be a collective Malaysian decision, he said.

Mustapa said the TPPA does not prevent governments from pursuing and regulating legitimate public policy objectives, especially in areas such as national security, public health environment and welfare.

In the meantime, there are a number of safeguards being negotiated to address key concerns, including the avoidance of frivolous challenges by investors, he said.

"It is important to note that the Investor ­State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism is not new for Malaysia.

"We already have 74 bilateral investment treaties and eight free trade agreements (FTAs) which contain ISDS provisions," he said.

On government procurements, Mustapa said, Malaysia is safeguarding Bumiputera preferences by ensuring that the current Bumiputera and small and medium enterprise preferences are maintained.

As for capital controls, Malaysia has successfully defended the rights to ensure that there will be sufficient policy space to mitigate any destabilising effect of capital flows and preserve financial and macroeconomic stability, he said.

He said another major concern is the claim that the prices of medicines will rise astronomically as a result of stronger patent protection.

However, in reality, the patent-protection clauses in the TPPA are not that different from Malaysia's current regulations on this subject, Mustapa said.

Malaysia found that the TPPA provides it with market access to four trading partners that it no FTAs with -- US, Canada, Mexico and Peru, he said.

On Islam, Mustapa gave an assurance that nothing in the TPPA will threaten the position of it as the official religion of Malaysia and the government will never allow any FTA to undermine this constitutional provision.

On a common concern that the TPPA is being negotiated 'secretly', the minister said: "In international negotiations, the negotiating text is not normally made public. However, all the issues being negotiated have been openly discussed."

He said Malaysians will have access to the full text in the event that an agreement is reached.