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Malaysia to ‘wait and see’ over fate of TPPA after US presidential election

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by October 11, 2016 General

PETALING JAYA: With both US presidential candidates against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), Malaysia is adopting a wait and seeapproach on whether or not the free trade agreement will actually happen.

But Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (pic) believes it is too late to scrap years of negotiations and agreements already made between the 12 member nations, regardless of who ends up in the White House.

“If you look at the history of America and whoever is President, the system is always the same. Policy is almost consistent and whether a new President will change it is beyond our control.

“We have to wait and see until November 8 (US election day) and then we will assess the situation.

“But I think, they have already gone through the process of negotiations for so many years. I don’t think the American people, Congress or the new President will just simply dump or scrap the whole idea,” Dr Wee said after attending the Star Media Group’s SME Conference, Star SMEBiz.

In their first debate two weeks ago, presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton squared off on many issues but found one thing in common – they were both not in favour of the TPPA.

US fact checker PolitiFact verified that Trump had opposed the free trade agreement as early as April 2015, claiming it would hurt US businesses and jobs.

Clinton on the other hand, was not directly involved with the deal and came out against it in October 2015 and later said she would kill the 12-country pact if elected.

The agreement, signed in February, is expected to expand markets, reduce tariffs and promote freer trade between 12 countries; New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Mexico, Japan, Peru, Canada, Vietnam, United States, Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia.

Malaysia, which joined the TPPA in the third round of negotiations in October 2010, will see its GDP increase by US$107bil (RM444bil) to US$211bil (RM876bil) over 2018-2027.

Investments are projected to increase by US$136bil (RM565bil) to US$239bil (RM993bil) over 2018-2027, largely due to higher investment growth in textiles, construction and distributive trade.

Second Minister of International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan also agreed with Wee, saying that the agreement is expected to go ahead even without its original supporter.

“There will be no renegotiation. We have already concluded negotiations. For America, I don’t know. But for the rest of the world, free trade is the direction. Like it or not, all countries are going to integrate in one big economy.

“They have the right to make that decision but in the end, they will be left out. Whoever that segregates and build walls will fail,” he said last week.

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