WikiLeaks info on ISDS mechanism in TPP not updated, minister says

Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (right) hosts the #TANYAGOMEN Q-and-A session, entitled ‘Hey, dare to accept TPP challenges?’ on October 16, 2015 at the Pitching Centre, Kuala Lumpur. — Bernama pic
Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (right) hosts the #TANYAGOMEN Q-and-A session, entitled ‘Hey, dare to accept TPP challenges?’ on October 16, 2015 at the Pitching Centre, Kuala Lumpur. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 — International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said today that the provisions for the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement had changed during negotiations and were different from those stated in leaked documents on WikiLeaks.

He said the ISDS mechanism, which allows companies to bring governments to court for losses suffered as a result of a country’s legislation or legal decisions, was strengthened with added requirements after taking into account flaws identified from previous cases around the world.

“The Wikileaks texts I believe were from 2013. It is now October of 2015. Many changes have taken place,” he said today at the #TanyaGomen engagement programme organised by the Economic Transformation Programme.

“Among the changes, we based them on learning from cases in Australia, Ecuador and many more. We take into consideration weaknesses from existing ISDS practices,” he added.

Contrary to the minister’s claim, however, the latest WikiLeaks release on the TPP investment chapter, which covers the ISDS mechanism, was based on documents up to January 20, 2015.

Mustapa also said today that there were added protocols that include the requirement for companies to first meet with the government it intends to take to court before taking legal action.

He further stressed that Malaysia was currently involved in eight Investment Guarantee Agreements (IGA) that already have provisions for ISDS mechanisms.

“Malaysia has been sued twice by foreign companies, and there have been two Malaysian companies that have sued foreign governments. So it is nothing new,” he said.

The Malaysian Bar Council had previously expressed its concern over the lack of information on the TPP, especially on its ISDS provisions and how they would be implemented.

The TPP is a free trade agreement that has been negotiated by the US, Malaysia and nine other nations as part of the larger Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership since 2010.

According to international reports, the Pacific agreement would phase out thousands of import tariffs as well as other barriers to international trade and establish uniform rules on corporations’ intellectual property, and open the Internet.

Critics have criticised the secrecy with which the deal was negotiated, claiming that it would, among other things, undermine the sovereignty of signatory nations and make drugs more expensive in member countries.

Following the agreement on the trade deal, lawmakers have expressed a possible special Parliamentary sitting to be held to debate on the TPP and whether to sign it.

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