Malaysia is the only country to be granted an opt-out clause in a side letter to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), Asian Development Bank lead economist Jayant Menon said. “This actually allows Malaysia to withdraw from the TPPA without even trying to rectify it in Parliament. No other member country can do that. “How Malaysia was able to secure this, I don’t know. But I think International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed is a great negotiator,” he added, at the Asean Economic Forum today.
He said the TPPA had been labelled a gold standard agreement, but now that the negotiated text is available, it was significantly watered down to secure compromises. “Malaysia has been perhaps the most successful in securing exemptions in many sensitive areas, including things like government procurement, reform of state enterprises or government-linked companies and protection in certain areas of intellectual property reforms. “With so many exemptions, probably it is not a big deal for Malaysia to go through with the TPP after all,” he said. However, Jayant added that the TPP itself might not become a reality if it didn’t get through the US congress. “There is no guarantee that it will.
The Republicans have to be supported in large numbers as the Democrats are already opposed to it. “Politics is playing a bigger role now. There is no guarantee that the TPPA will simply pass through Congress. We just to have to wait and see,” he said. Jayant was speaking as a panel member at the forum on the evolving regional trade architecture and market reaction towards it.