Malaysia’s participation in the CPTPP agreement should be reviewed for the benefit of farmers, fishermen and livestock breeders as well as the nation’s food security. The Malaysia Food Sovereignty Forum has on 29 December 2022 submitted the following memorandum – signed by 54 organisations – to the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security YB Tuan Haji Mohamad bin Sabu on the matter.
Memorandum of the Forum Kedaulatan Makanan Malaysia regarding the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Transpacific Partnership (CPTPP) submitted to the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security YB Tuan Haji Mohamad Bin Sabu
29 December 2022
The purpose of this memorandum is to seek clarification on whether the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has carried out a detailed assessment and study regarding the matters mentioned in this memorandum regarding the ratification of the CPTPP. The cost and benefit analysis issued by MITI does not directly examine the impact of the CPTPP on farmers, livestock breeders, fishermen and entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector, or the impact on consumers. In fact, there is no assessment of the impact on the country’s food security.
We request that our deep concerns be brought to the Cabinet meeting so that Malaysia’s participation in the CPTPP agreement can be reviewed for the benefit of farmers, fishermen and livestock breeders as well as the nation’s food security. The issues that need urgent attention include:
I. Countries that ratify the CPTPP must join the UPOV Convention 1991. This Convention aims to provide extensive protection and monopoly rights to plant breeders for the purported purpose of encouraging investment and innovation. The UPOV system is biased and denies the interests and contributions of small farmers. UPOV prevents farmers from innovating and denies the traditional rights of farmers to freely share and sell protected seeds harvested from their own fields.
II. Subsidies for fishermen can be blocked if a fisherman catches fish that is categorized as a declining species due to overfishing. There is no exception in this regard for small fishermen or coastal fishermen. This rule is unfair because it puts the blame for the declining fish species on small fishermen when the main cause of fish extinction is from pollution and the use of nets that are banned by large trawlers.
III. The CPTPP grants 10 years of exclusive marketing protection privileges to agrochemicals that can cause the price of agricultural pesticides to triple. Although it is better for farmers to switch to natural farming methods, a sudden change in the price of chemical pesticides can cause farmers to go out of business early. Livestock breeders will bear the cost of veterinary medicine which is more expensive as a result of the stricter requirements in the CPTPP’s Intellectual Property chapter.
IV. The CPTPP requires the abolition of tariffs or import taxes to 0% on almost all processed and unprocessed agricultural products. In addition to providing income to the government, import tariffs are also a mechanism to protect local farmers, fishermen and livestock breeders from the dumping of cheap and possibly low-quality imported products. Without tariffs import surges and even dumping will occur.
V. With the CPTPP, import permits that aim to protect local farmer, breeders, consumers and the local market from import dumping will be constrained in their use by the agencies involved such as FAMA (Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority) and MAQIS (Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services). For example, when cheap and low-quality foreign chilies flood the market and affect local farmers in the future, FAMA will face new restrictions if it wants to help reduce imports through sanitary and phytosanitary mechanisms.
VI. Opportunities for local entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector will shrink. The dumping of imported products and foreign services into the country can cause factories and local entrepreneurs to go out of business. Dumping imported products will please consumers in the short term. However, unknowingly this will kill local producers and traders so that all consumer needs will increasingly depend on foreign countries.
Click here for the full memo and list of organisations that endorse it: https://consumer.org.my/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/29-Dec-2022-Memo-to-Minister-of-Agric-and-Food-Security_ENG-signed-Dis-2022.pdf