TPPA shrouded with uncertainty

Source: Free Malaysia Today

August 27,2013

Malaysians by large will have to bow to pricier lifestyle and risk losing its economic edge in the region.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, a secretive trade deal with wide ranging international ramifications is stubbornly being pushed through by the Malaysian authorities, notwithstanding the growing discontent over its far reaching consequences.

This is about the creation of a grouping that will exploit the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) region’s strategic and political potential. It risks the division of Asia into two specific blocs that will pull apart from each other with the creation of a virtual line of trespass with damaging results.

The TPP will not only change the way we do business but it has the power to determine what we eat, the way we live, bringing along with it even more life challenging transformations, of which the Malaysians in particular are not ready to face or willing to accept, and this despite Najib Tun Razak’s government stubborn defense of the notorious trade pact.

As a pactole, it will eat into our lifestyle and force Malaysians to bow to pricier goods and medication as well as food given the fact that the TPP covers almost everything that a country imports or produces.

Meanwhile, there is no mechanism in place to upgrade the standard of living of Malaysians though the Prime Minister is clamoring the ambitious goal of attaining high-income status for the country by 2020.

The goal being part of the transformation program launched by the PM since 2009, has so far delivered mixed results and did not prepare us for the current market and currency downfall, a problem which the authorities are trying to whizz under the carpet of mystery. Sweet talk with short term measures for rapid recovery is all they can do.

However, according to the opposition PKR, the rush to sign the TPP is an American attempt at imposing its will and way of life on the Malaysians and has to do with the Prime Minister’s transformation agenda.

PKR vice president Nurul Izzah Anwar in a media interview last month, believed the TPP was an extension to Najib’s transformation plans and following this statement, it appears clearly now that the transformation plan will depend largely on the success of signing the TPP.

Malaysia, the PM said, is going to raise GDP per capita to USD $12,476 (about RM38, 000) by 2020 which is in line with the World Bank’s high-income status. GDP was USD $9,977 (RM30, 000) in 2011, and it does appear possible for the country to achieve that by 2020 provided all the economic plans work and most important of all, the TPP is achieved.

To get the TPP signed by this year, though the cabinet seems to have given fresh mandate to the negotiators from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) to renegotiate some chapters and clauses, Najib need to do one thing: That is to order MITI to wrap the talks and negotiations as soon as possible and the final documents prepared before the visit of US President Barack Obama to Kuala Lumpur in October 2013.

Nevertheless, a source close to the TPP talks said recently, the TPP can be implemented based simply on the authority of Najib.

He can deal directly with the other 11 leaders of the TPP member states, thus by-passing the cabinet, the negotiators from MITI and the Parliament altogether.

This is within the executive powers of the PM and is not uncommon with Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s) where the leader of the country has the final powers to decide on the signing or not of such deals.

Najib’s eagerness to force Malaysia to join the TPP despite the plethora of opposition – from Malay groups and from various other sources – had to do with the government’s attempt to turn Malaysia into a ‘high income’ nation.

PM has final say

Nurul Izzah did not express any surprise that Najib, being the Prime Minister of Malaysia, has the final say in deciding whether Malaysia should pursue with the TPP or quit when the time is right.

On the other hand, there seem to be some desperate moves by the local negotiators to push for the final rounds of the TPP though the country is just taking stock of the reality of the negotiations.

To that, Nurul Izzah said that those against the TPP were still in the dark over many aspects of the negotiations and it would be appropriate for all segments of the population to know the full impact of the implications before Malaysia commits itself to the agreement.

The fact that Najib has the final say on the TPP; which came to light following the revelation made by an activist who is campaigning against the TPP, insist that all controversial issues within the TPP can typically be resolved at political level.

The source said there were many areas of contention during the negotiations still not agreed upon by the member countries, thus delaying the signing of the TPP originally scheduled for October this year during the official visit of the United States President.

“Once the relevant heads of government meet or speak on the phone, the issue is resolved,” the source said, indicating the Prime Minister or the President of a country may have the upper hand in the final decision.

When asked whether the political settlement between the TPP leaders could effectively override the negotiator’s role, the source said it certainly does since these can be resolved by a phone call, thus speeding up the signing of the controversial trade agreement this year.

“Obama may simply call the Malaysian Prime Minister and they can even have a conference of leaders of the TPP nations and resolve all the issues left behind by the team of negotiators,” the activist said.

The activist added that it was imperative for the public to know that the leaders of the countries involved in the secretive and dangerous treaty, had the powers to decide to remain in it or to withdraw.

“Yet, once they sign the agreement, they will only have a six month cooling off period to decide to leave the TPP. After that, the country is in a binding agreement that can cause the regime to be sued if it were to attempt a pull out,” she said.

This entry was posted in Asean, IP Rights, Pricing, Right to Health, TPP, TPP. Bookmark the permalink.

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