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CAP wants M’sia to ditch TPP trade deal

 | May 14, 2015

Obama’s failure to fast track authority means that US lawmakers could amend the deal

Mohamed-Idris_tppa_malys_us_600GEORGE TOWN: The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) has demanded that Putrajaya pull out from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement negotiations since there was no US fast track authority to prevent the deal from being further amended.

CAP president SM Mohamed Idris said the US Senate had on Tuesday night voted against considering a fast track authority for TPP at this time. The fast track or trade promotion authority would allow TPP to pass easily in its present form.

However, the Senate voted 52-45, short of the 60 votes needed to pave the way for debate on the “fast-track” trade authority for President Barrack Obama. Only one Democrat Senator backed the measure, he added, despite a White House campaign blitz to win democratic support.

Idris noted that Washington’s failure to get fast track authority was a signal that even the country that was supposed to benefit the most from the TPP did not have sufficient support for this controversial deal.

“Malaysia should stop wasting precious resources by continuing to negotiate this trade agreement,” said Idris.

TPP negotiators are scheduled to meet to try and conclude the TPP in Guam later this week while TPP negotiating country ministers are scheduled to meet at the end of May.

Idris reiterated that a fast track authority would have meant a simplified mechanism for Congress to vote on the TPP once it was completed and would prevent American lawmakers from amending the trade deal.

In the current situation where the USA does not have fast track authority, he said one committee chair or a few senators in the US Congress can reopen the TPP text after it was concluded in order to demand more concessions from TPP countries.

For example, he pointed out, it can demand stronger intellectual property protection that would keep medicines and textbooks more expensive for longer or removal of Malaysia’s proposed safeguards for tobacco control measures as a condition of passing the TPP.

Another sticking point was that Malaysia would have to drop the “Bumiputera” requirement in government procurements.

Already, a number of countries, notably Japan, have said they would not make any final commitments unless the US President has fast track authority.

Before making concessions on the remaining sensitive issues in the TPP, countries such as Canada, Chile and Japan have insisted on the USA having fast track authority so that they can be more confident that they will not be asked to make further concessions, beyond their red lines for the TPP to pass the US Congress.

Idris said Malaysia and other TPP governments should seriously consider the strong community opposition to the TPP in all negotiating countries including the US.

“These countries should not proceed with the negotiations or sign the agreement which is against public interest,” said Idris.


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