The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) calls upon the Malaysian government to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement negotiations as the US Senate had last night voted against considering fast track authority at this time.
The US Senate was supposed to be where the Fast Track or Trade Promotion Authority would pass easily. However the Senate voted 52-45, short of the 60 votes needed to pave the way for debate on the “fast-track” trade authority for Obama. Only one Senate Democrat, backed the measure, despite a White House campaign blitz to win Democratic support (http://in.reuters.com/article/2015/05/13/usa-trade-idINL1N0Y32K020150513).
TPP negotiators are scheduled to meet to try and conclude the TPP in Guam later this week whilst the TPP negotiating country Ministers were scheduled to meet end of May 2015.
Fast track authority would mean a simplified mechanism for Congress to vote on the TPP once it was completed, and would prevent American lawmakers from amending the trade deal. In the current situation where the USA does not have fast track authority, one committee chair or a few senators in the U.S. Congress can reopen the TPP text after it is concluded in order to demand more concessions from TPP countries (for example stronger intellectual property protection that would keep medicines and textbooks more expensive for longer or removal of Malaysia’s proposed safeguard for tobacco control measures) as a condition of passing the TPP.
A number of countries, notably Japan, have said they will not make any final commitments unless the US President has fast track authority. Before making concessions on the remaining sensitive issues in the TPP, countries such as Canada, Chile and Japan have insisted on the USA having fast track authority so that they can be more confident that they will not be asked to make further concessions, beyond their red lines for the TPP to pass the U.S. Congress.
Malaysia should stop wasting precious resources by continuing to negotiate this trade agreement. The failure of US to get fast track authority should be a signal that even the country that is supposed to benefit the most does not have sufficient support for this controversial deal.
The Malaysian and other TPP governments should seriously consider the strong community opposition to the TPP in all negotiating countries including the US, and should not proceed with the negotiations nor sign the agreement which is against public interest.
Press Release, 13 May 2015