Malaysia mulls TPPA discussion, New Zealand claims little to gain without US

Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the meeting was an important step to pave the way forward for TPPA.

Picture for representation
Malaysia's Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed speaks during an interview with Reuters Reuters

Last Friday, TPPA ministers of the 11 remaining countries met in a meeting, making it the first meeting involving the entire ministers following United States' withdrawal from the pact submitted on 30 January.

Malaysian International Trade and Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, said the meeting was an important step to pave the way forward for TPPA with fears arising that the deal may not materialise without the United States.

Quoted by the New Straits Times, Mustapa said: "Despite differing views among TPPA ministers on the agreement based on its current form excluding US participation, we were united in our commitment to maintain the momentum of trade liberalisation and regional integration by continuing the discussion."

He also said TPPA officials were instructed to start the process to assess options available for signatories while looking at facilitating participation and taking into account the needs of each member to ensure the TPPA remains beneficial for those involved.

Mustapa said the ministers agreed the discussion was to be guided by principles including the need to keep the pace and act decisively in a timely manner which will maintain the high standards of the agreement.

"Japan and New Zealand have ratified the agreement while the other countries are in various stages of their domestic process. Malaysia will continue to amend the legislations covering several areas including labour and intellectual property rights regardless of whether or not we will be part of the TPPA."

On Monday, however, New Zealand's top trade official said the country was not going to gain much from major changes to the trade pact, emphasising on the obstacles to finalised the deal without US.

Bloomberg quoted New Zealand trade minister Todd McClay saying the agreement was well balanced and little negotiation was needed. "I don't see that a renegotiation would be helpful for us," McClay told Bloomberg in Hanoi, Vietnam.

McClay said Malaysia will speak for itself. While some may want to make changes, others have a lighter weight to the changes needed. "We have time and the desire to work in detail to see what it should look like. I am quite optimistic," he said.

The next TPPA official meeting is expected to be hosted by Japan in July.