Don’t give way on TPP in Singapore

The Consumers Association of Penang strongly calls on International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed not to accept compromises at the ongoing ministerial meeting on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Trade ministers from the participating 12 countries are meeting in Singapore from today for 4 days to complete as much as they can.

Such haste makes nonsense of Datuk Seri Mustapa’s declaration that the text of the TPPA currently being negotiated would be ‘released’ for detailed scrutiny and public debate AFTER it has been finalised before Malaysia signs on.

Mustapa was reported to have said that “When everything is agreed, the text will be made available for our cost-benefit analysis (CBA) study, as well as for public viewing and scrutiny.” (The Sun, 21 February, 2014)

The minister described the move as “unprecedented in Malaysia”, but showing Malaysians what has already been agreed to over the past three years in secret, even as research from different TPPA countries shows more and more negative impacts, cannot be the way such important agreements are crafted. From the few leaked chapters it is clear that there are serious differences between some developing countries and the US-led positions. Pressure on the ministers to conclude as much as possible in Singapore means accepting more compromises against Malaysian interests.

It is also clear now that the United States Congress will not give the Obama Administration “fast track” authority to conclude trade pacts. Without fast track, even one member of the US Congress can reopen the TPPA text and insist on additional obligations for Malaysia to accommodate all types of US interests. No fast track also means that any safeguards or flexibilities Malaysia may get in a signed text may not survive passage through Congress and same goes for any ‘benefits’ Malaysia may get from the US negotiators.

MITI on 20 February was reported to say that the conclusion of negotiations will hinge on the Obama Administration obtaining fast track authority. This is not going to happen this year for sure.

So it is time to walk out now and not waste money and time to continue on these negotiations. Worse, each step of compromise to have a completed TPPA pulls Malaysia deeper into the TPPA trap.

To say that the text will be made public after finalisation when Malaysia and other countries (except the US) can no longer make changes is totally unacceptable.

Press Statement, 22 February 2014