KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is not ready to call it quits on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) just yet, but is keeping its options open, said International Trade and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
In his ministerial reply on Budget 2017 at the committee stage, the Jeli MP said Malaysia wants to wait until January 20, 2017 – the day of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration – before it decides on whether or not to pull out of the TPP.
Mustapa also said Malaysia will hold a separate meeting with the other TPP signatories during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) in Peru, whose President has mooted a new TPP-like trade deal but with China and Russia, minus the United States.
“This wasn’t in our agenda, but we are open to discussing free trade agreements and we will decide if it brings benefits to the country and the bumiputra base, because we want FTAs with Canada, Peru and the US,” he said.
But when questioned by Wong Chen (PKR-Kelana Jaya) on whether Malaysia will make a decision on the TPP, Mustapa called for patience.
“We have been negotiating this for the last five years. We have invested a lot of time and money and we have discussed and fought about it here (in Parliament).
“We have decided to wait until Jan 20. We will make a decision and announce it to the people, Parliament and stakeholders then. I ask for patience,” he said.
Though he felt that the TPP was “water under the bridge” following Trump’s shock election win last week, he held a glimmer of optimism, saying that the Republican President-elect has already made U-turns on several policies.
To a question by Charles Santiago (PKR-Klang) on whether Malaysia will still amend laws that it had planned to accommodate the TPP, even if the deal does not go through, Mustapa said the changes, particularly those on labour and the environment, will still take effect.
“We were already planning these amendments even before the TPP and we just piggybacked off the trade deal.
“I think these amendments will be beneficial, especially because it will give workers more rights,” he said.