Malaysia's interest in TPP has waned following US pullout, says Mustapa

OOI TEE CHING

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is now less keen to continue with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), since the United States (US) has opted out, said Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.


With US President Donald Trump having announced its withdrawal from the TPP on Jan 23,​ 2017, the other countries involved in the negotiations have been forced to review their views and course of direction.


Nevertheless, Mustapa said there were still a handful of countries such as Japan and New Zealand, which still keen on proceeding with the TPP.


Mustapa said, although the potential of access to markets would be reduced without the US in the TPP, Malaysia will still continue to amend its set of labour laws.


Mustapa said that for Malaysia, as a trading nation that practices an open economic policy, failure to implement the TPP represents a missed opportunity for Malaysian companies to compete more effectively, specifically in Asia Pacific.


"I expect a more detailed discussion about TPP without the US to take place at the APEC Minister's meeting in Vietnam in May.


"It would include the question of whether the TPP could also involve other APEC economies, such as China, South Korea and Russia. At this juncture, it is too early to give a firm answer," he said.


The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a 21-member economic grouping made up of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam.


Mustapa said Malaysia is still actively​ negotiating other free trade pacts with the European Union, Sri Lanka and Iran.


On the expenses incurred, he said about RM15 million had been spent by the government to finance 15 ministries and agencies involved in the TPP negotiations.


"A major portion of the spending involved logistics costs such as flight tickets to long haul destinations as the US, Canada and Peru," he added.