Mustapa: Malaysia not surprised with trump’s TPPA withdrawal announcement

US President Donald Trump signed the Executive Order yesterday to withdraw from TPPA. — Reuters pic
US President Donald Trump signed the Executive Order yesterday to withdraw from TPPA. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 — Malaysia is not surprised with President Donald Trump’s official announcement to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and will continue to engage with the new administration to strengthen bilateral and economic relations. 

In a statement today, Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, said Malaysia will, however, continue to monitor closely developments with regard to the US trade policies.

“Notwithstanding the current position of the new US administration on TPPA, we will continue to engage with our American colleagues to strengthen bilateral trade and economic relations, given the US’ importance as our third largest trading partner and a major source of investments,” he said.

Trump signed the Executive Order yesterday to withdraw from TPPA.  Mustapa said Trump’s action was not totally surprising as he had vowed to withdraw US from the TPPA, referring to the deal as a ‘potential disaster’ to the American economy.

“The trade deal is a balanced agreement and beneficial to all its 12 members. The US will also benefit from better market access to countries which they do not have free trade agreements (FTAs) with, such as Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia,” he said.

Trump’s contention was that the TPPA would cause job losses in the US and outflow of funds to other TPPA countries, meaning other members, including Malaysia, will gain and the US lose out, he said.

He said with the latest development in the US, the TPPA chief negotiators from other 11 countries will be in constant communications with each other to consider all available options before deciding the best way forward.  “They have been working closely in the last five years and will continue to communicate with each other.

“The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Industry and all relevant ministries will engage with various stakeholders to get their views and feedback on the latest development of the TPP and the way forward,” he said.  

The TPPA was signed by Malaysia and 11 other parties on Feb 4, 2016. The pact cannot come into force without the US participation, as it accounts for about 60 per cent of the combined gross domestic product (GDP) of the 12 members. 

Under the agreement, a minimum of six nations, accounting for 85 per cent of the combined GDP of the 12 members, must ratify before the pact can come into force. 

Mustapa said it will be a missed opportunity for Malaysia should the TPPA failed to enter into force since many research houses had singled the country out as a clear winner in the pact.

“Our negotiating team managed to secure a number of valuable concessions and at the same time protect our national interest, including Bumiputera policies. 

“Malaysians should, and must take comfort in knowing that we have a highly capable negotiating team ready to defend our interest in any future bilateral or multilateral trade negotiations,” he said.

He said Malaysia’s focus will be to enhance the economic integration of Asean in the context of the Asean Economic Community Blueprint 2025 and push for the timely conclusion of the RCEP.

He said Malaysia would also pursue bilateral FTAs, including with TPPA members whom Putrajaya currently does not have any preferential trading arrangement, he said.

The TPPA consists of 12 countries — Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, US and Vietnam.  Of the 12, Malaysia does not have trade pacts with US, Canada, Peru and Mexico. — Bernama

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