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TPP: Less “Noise” More Momentum, Says Mustapa

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MANILA – The ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which represents 40 per cent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product, is gaining more momentum with at least five more countries keen to join the United States-led pact.

Ever since the completion and publication of the trade pact’s text the “noise” over it has died down quiet a bit, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

“More people have better understanding of the trade pact now, including in Malaysia, he said.

“This was revealed in my discussions and bilateral meetings with some TPP member counterparts,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting here on Monday.

In fact, he said, five countries, which included some ASEAN members, were keen to join the trade pact, which would form the largest free trade area ever created.

“Some of the countries are seeking Malaysia’s support to join TPP,” he said, adding that those who were previously skeptical about it were feeling comfortable now after the text was released.

Asked why these countries were showing a sudden interest to join the TPP, he said:”One country mentioned that it had no other choice as many other countries have done the same and they don’t want to be left out.”

Besides TPP is also seen as a building block towards a tariff free zone in Asia Pacific, he said.

Mustapa, however, declined to disclose the new countries which wanted to join the partnership.

APEC consist of 21 members namely, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong-China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taipei, Thailand, United States, and Vietnam.

Out of the 21 countries, 12 are members of the TPP.

APEC members who are not in TPP are China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russia, Taiwan and Thailand.

The leaders of the TPP member countries are set to meet on the sidelines of the APEC meeting – the first since the completion and publication of the text.

They are expected to pledge their respective commitment for the pact. – BERNAMA

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