MITI must list out the amendments needed to ratify CPTPP, says DAP MP

Malaysia is one of the pioneering countries that worked towards the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership CPTPP following the demise of the earlier Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) when the US pulled out of the TPP in January 2017. However, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has yet to list all the amendments that need to be passed in parliament in order to ratify the CPTPP. While ministry officials in recent press statements have expressed confidence in the current government’s outlook on Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), they too remain unclear exactly when the ratification will take place. Member of Parliament for Bangi and Assistant Political Education Director for the Democratic Action Party (DAP), Dr. Ong Kian-Ming says Malaysia could lose out by not ratifying the CPTPP.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — The recent new applications to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) by the UK, China and Taiwan are positive signs that the CPTPP is a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) worth joining, said Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Bangi in a statement today.

“To date, Malaysia has not yet ratified the CPTPP and as such, we do not have a say in the setting of the terms and conditions by which to allow these new applicants (and future applicants) to join the CPTPP. To date, eight out of the 11 countries have already ratified the CPTPP including two of our ASEAN neighbours namely Singapore and Vietnam. Only Malaysia, Brunei and Chile have yet to ratify the CPTPP.

“Since several amendments have to be passed in parliament in order to ratify the CPTPP, the MITI Minister (Datuk Seri Azmin Ali) has the responsibility of convincing the MPs from all parties that the positive impact of ratifying the CPTPP will outweigh the costs.”

Among others, the minister must list out all the amendments which need to be passed in parliament in order to ratify the CPTPP in the interest of transparency.

Explanation must be also given on how the implementation of each of these amendments can result in positive outcomes for specific segments of the Malaysian economy and also for the larger population, especially for the workforce and the consumer, he said.

Other confidence building measures must include calculating “the potential benefits to Malaysia of the new applicants to join the CPTPP. How much more will Malaysia benefit from China joining the CPTPP given that we already have an FTA with China via the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)? What about the UK and Taiwan?,” he said.

For this, he suggested MITI to update the cost benefit analysis which was conducted for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) in 2015 and examine the preliminary evidence of positive economic impact from the countries which have already ratified the CPTPP, taking into account the impact of COVID19 on the global economy.

The minister must also explain the difference between countries which have already ratified the CPTPP and those which have not yet ratified the agreement when it comes to participation in the various committees for the CPTPP and in each of the 5 CPTPP Commissions which have met since 2019.

“The process of explaining the benefits of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) to ALL MPs is an important test of the sincerity of the Keluarga Malaysia government in the process of engagement. A good start will be the engagement process which the MITI Minister chooses to undertake in explaining the amendments to Malaysian laws.

“I sincerely hope that the MITI Minister will not take the support of Pakatan Harapan (PH) MPs for granted with respect to FTA ratification just because we have signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the government.”