The Star, Malaysia
TPPA gets hostile response during public meeting
2 August 2013
KUALA LUMPUR: A public consultation session here intended to gather feedback on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) garnered mostly hostile response from the participants.
The half-day event organised by the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) attracted more than 1,000 people from non-governmental organisations, special interest groups and individuals who are concerned about Malaysia’s participation in free trade agreements.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s economic policy in the Asia Pacific, and the proposed agreement with the United States involves Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Japan and Vietnam.
Malaysia’s deputy chief negotiator Isham Ishak briefed the audience on the progress of the TPPA, which just concluded its 18th round of negotiations at Kota Kinabalu last month.
Many participants at the event slammed TPPA as an attempt by the United States to dominate the economies of member countries.
They also expressed worries of possible job losses and the ability of small and medium enterprises to compete after Malaysia’s economy is liberalised.
“It is clear from the response by the audience today that we do not agree with TPPA,” said Malay Economic Action Council chief executive officer Mohd Nizam Mahshar.
Young Entrepreneur Organisation Malaysia president Agil Faisal Ahmad Fadzil said that feedback from the event showed that “many Malaysians have a fear of the unknown and what TPPA represents”.
International Trade Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamad, who opened and closed the event, admitted the negative mood was clear.
“I respect it because the reason we are doing this is to listen, and to be a good listener, we have to respect people’s views. I recognise that a lot more will have to be done to engage the public on TPPA,” said Mustapa, who added that a TPPA briefing for the Cabinet would take place on Aug 19.