Malaysia cannot afford to be left out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) as the likes of Thailand, Philippines and China want to join the giant trade pact, a parliamentary caucus revealed today.
Kota Tinggi MP Datuk Noor Ehsanuddin Mohd Harun Narrashid said Malaysia would benefit from a bigger market for the sale of goods and services. The TPPA provides access to a potential customer base of 793 million people.
"The key aspect for opponents and supporters of the TPPA is that nothing has been agreed until everything has been agreed to. We have been collecting feedback and input from various stakeholders involved in the discussions," he told reporters at Pan-Pacific Harbour in Kota Kinabalu today.
"Yes, we have heard and understood the concerns expressed by various quarters and non-government organisations about the TPPA. That is why this caucus was formed, to gather as much as information as possible to allay the fears of the people."
Jasin MP Datuk Wira Ahmad Hamzah said it was important to safeguard the sovereignty of the country and the interests of Malaysians. He said the concerns expressed by various parties in Malaysia were also shared by other countries involved in the TPPA.
Fears have been expressed by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that the involvement of transnational and multinational companies in the TPPA would result in them swallowing small businesses.
On the human resources side, there are fears about the fate of thousands of workers as the TPPA encourages automation and the promotion of skilled workers, a factor which Putatan MP Datuk Dr Makin @ Marcus Mojigoh acknowledged.
Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said they were aware of the complications surrounding the cost of medicines and the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) and were studying all the information they had received from stakeholders.
"Nothing has been agreed yet and it is in the interest of all parties to hear and study the benefits of the TPPA first," Nurul Izzah said, calling on police to be lenient on protesters in the spirit of solidarity. She was referring to the arrests of 14 protesters earlier in the day.
"Malaysia is not only being represented by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) at the TPPA but by other ministries and Bank Negara," Nurul Izzah added.
Noor Ehsanuddin said the MPs from both sides of the political divide were aware of fears that the National Economic Policy (NEP) and the special rights of Malays would be affected by the TPPA.
He added MITI was also making efforts to engage all the relevant stakeholders and was holding an open day on August 1 to explain and clarify various issues to the public. - July 20, 2013.