After TPP, Malaysia’s focus is now on RCEP, says Mustapa

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KUALA LUMPUR: Following the signing of the new 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement on Thursday, Malaysia is now shifting its focus to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), said International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed.

He was referring to the proposed free trade agreement involving Asean, Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand with a combined population of 3.4 billion.

Meanwhile, the TPP was signed by all 11 member nations – Australia, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam – in Santiago, Chile yesterday.

“It is our view that both TPP and RCEP will serve as building blocks towards a more open and fairer trade and investment regime in the Asia Pacific region,” Mustapa said in a statement today.

Elaborating on the TPP, Mustapa said Malaysia was taking the necessary steps to amend the relevant laws in order to complete the ratification process and enable the implementation of the agreement as soon as possible.

“As one of the pioneer members who has successfully negotiated the agreement ‘on our terms’, Malaysia should not miss the opportunity to grab the benefits of this agreement, and efforts to complete the ratification process should be intensified,” he said.

Mustapa said the signing of the TPP was timely, as it showed Malaysia’s commitment towards an open and liberal trading system.

“What the world needs now is more trade and investment flows, and not restricted markets,” he said.

Mustapa added that despite the absence of the United States, Malaysia stood to gain from market access to countries like Canada, Peru and Mexico, countries which do not have a preferential trading arrangement with Malaysia.

In addition to market access, Malaysia’s participation in the TPP would also benefit the country in terms of enhancing governance in a number of economic sectors, strengthening economic cooperation among member countries and promoting adoption of international standards, he said.

“This agreement will help us to further promote our trade and investment agenda and mitigate the challenges of the global economic environment,” the minister said.

The TPP was concluded on Jan 23, 2018 in Tokyo after eight rounds of negotiations which started early 2017 at the ministers and senior officials level. The revised negotiations was necessary following the withdrawal of the United States from the original pact shortly after President Donald Trump took office in January last year.

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