KUALA LUMPUR: Despite several rounds of discussions, major points of contention still persist among the 12 countries which are negotiating the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), the Dewan Rakyat was told yesterday.
Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed was answering
a question on the TPPA during the question and answer session yesterday.
“From Sept 18 to 21, head negotiators had a meeting in Washington DC. There are a series of ongoing talks in Ottawa and Mexico City but not much progress has been mde.
“Issues such as government procurement, intellectual property, matters concerning the environment are among the issues which are still being discussed,” he said.
These talks are understood to be additional discussions to
the “official” rounds of talks. So far, 19 rounds of discussions have taken place with the last one in Brunei.
Mustapa said Malaysia has made known its objections over similar issues to the other 11 countries negotiating the pact.
He said the government is currently undertaking two cost-benefit analyses, one of which is to study the impact of the agreement on bumiputera businessmen and small and medium enterprises.
The other is to study the benefits for the country.
Mustapa maintained his stand that the TPPA will open more markets and opportunities for Malaysian products and businesses compared with the local market which is only 30-million strong.
As an example, he cited Malaysia’s export of palm oil to Canada.
“At the moment we don’t benefit as we are no longer categorised as a developing nation so we can’t charge [export] duty. But through TPPA, we stand to benefit 10% to 11% of [export] duty,” he said.
He repeated that Malaysia’s national interest will be a priority in the negotiating process.
The minister also appealed to those who are opposed to the talks not to take to the streets when American President Barack Obama visits the country next month as Malaysia is still negotiating the agreement and it is not a done deal yet.
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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 25, 2013.