Opening remarks by Mr. S.M. Mohamed Idris, President of CAP at the Forum on the Impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to this forum organized by the Consumers’ Association of Penang.  You have come here to learn how the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), currently being negotiated by the Malaysian government, will impact not only you but our future generations.

The TPPA countries are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United State of America and Vietnam. The TPPA is a beefed-up version of previous US free trade agreements (FTAs) designed to maximise corporate power and profits. The next round of TPP negotiations, which will be the 18th round, will be held in Malaysia from July 15th-25th. Japan is expected to participate in this round for the first time.

In the past, CAP and other organizations had protested the Malaysia-USA FTA because of the potential effects on our lives and livelihoods.  Now we have gathered again to object the TPPA.  Mind you, we are not the only ones protesting FTAs and the TPPA; citizens from other partner countries are also doing so.

I would like to express our sincere appreciation to representatives from the Malaysian AIDS Council, EcoKnights, Majlis Tindakan Ekonomi Melayu, Third World Network, Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) who have all travelled from Kuala Lumpur to speak to us on this very pressing issue. We call on MITI to listen seriously to the concerns of the rakyat.

Here is why we are against the TPPA:

1. The negotiations and the negotiating texts are secret, and all TPPA governments have agreed to con¬tinue the secrecy on the negotiating texts until four years after the deal is signed. “There is one exception to this wall of secrecy: a group of some 600 trade “advisers,” dominated by representatives of big businesses, enjoy privileged access to draft texts and negotiators”, says Lori Wallach, an American lawyer and director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

2. The investment chapter effectively empowers foreign corporations to ignore and override our country’s domestic judicial, legal and parliamentary systems. Other provisions could greatly restrict the governments’ ability to balance the protection of public interest, health, the environment and human rights against the private interests of corporations.

3. Access to affordable, life-saving medicines for millions of people is under threat as the TPPA would provide higher protections for the patents and clinical data of big pharmaceutical companies. This would make it harder for generic companies to produce affordable generic medicines, and delays and restricts the access to generic medicines.

4. If the duration of copyright is extended as the USA has proposed according to leaked texts, affordable access to information and knowledge would be harmed, and there will be negative impacts on the research and education sectors.

5. Reducing tariffs on farm and manufactured products may result in many people losing their jobs and livelihoods due to the resulting influx of cheaper imported goods putting our local companies out of business.

Besides these, there are many more reasons why Malaysia must not sign the TPPA. Our line-up of speakers will explain to you briefly on the impacts of the TPPA.  We then would have an opportunity to hear what the chief negotiator for Malaysia at the TPPA has to say about our country’s position.

Finally, I call upon all to stand in solidarity to demand that our rights to life, health, livelihood, equality, equity, food, environment, knowledge, traditional systems of life and livelihood not be jeopardized by the TPPA.  We, collectively must make sure the government does not sign the TPPA.

Thank you.