KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 1 (Bernama) — A level of confidentiality is required in Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations as negotiators advancing Malaysia’s strategic interests do not want to publically disclose their bargaining positions, said the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti).
In a statement today, Miti said this would ensure the best outcome during the negotiations, adding regulations and the evolving process of negotiations and rules surrounding the TPPA oblige negotiators to maintain confidentiality of the negotiating texts.
Miti said while the texts have never been made public as negotiations are on-going, the Government has and will continue to share its negotiating position with stakeholders.
Miti said consultations with various stakeholders prior to joining TPPA revealed an increasing request from Malaysian companies for more open markets and trade facilitative measures.
More Malaysian companies are becoming global investors and they require a level of predictability that can be guaranteed effectively through binding agreements like Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Miti said.
Concurrently, there is also interest from foreign companies in non-TPP countries that are exploring Malaysia as a base for their operations.
The combination of greater market access and the inflow of foreign investments would create a powerful catalyst in driving Malaysia’s economic transformation.
TPPA would also significantly enhance Malaysia’s engagement with important trading partners such as the US, Canada, Mexico and Peru thus offering the opportunity to be part of a duty-free consumer market that has 800 million people.
“This is not an opportunity that we can afford to miss, especially given that we are an open economy, highly dependent on international trade,” said Miti.
It added abandoning negotiations now would mean allowing other countries to set the terms of the agreement without having to consider the interests and concerns of Malaysia.
The impact of that disadvantage will be even more significant should countries such as China and Indonesia decide to join TPP later.
Meanwhile, in response to queries on the rush to conclude the TPPA by October 2013, Miti said there is a need to work towards a target date to conclude negotiations, as in all negotiations.
However, this is not a definitive deadline for the conclusion as negotiating parties still have a number of sensitive issues to be negotiated.
On why China is not in the TPP, Miti said the position of all TPP members is for this Agreement to be the basis for the FTA of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) which would encompass all the APEC economies, of which China is also a member.
Membership in TPP is voluntary and every member of APEC, including China, is free to decide when to join the TPP.
“Malaysia and China enjoy close diplomatic and commercial relations, and China is a very important trading partner to Malaysia. Malaysia would certainly welcome China into the TPP,” said Miti.
Miti added that the negotiation is not driven by the United States and every country is equal in the TPP negotiations, which are based on the principle of a single undertaking — “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.
“In the TPP negotiations, all agreement must be on a consensus basis. So while the US or any other country may wish to table many proposals, the final outcome must be based on consensus,” Miti said.