Monday, November 13, 2017

11 TPP countries agree to move ahead by suspending 20 provisions (IP included)

Malaysia, together with the 10 remaining Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal countries, have agreed that 20 provisions of the TPP agreement -- more known as TPPA in Malaysia -- be suspended to revive the deal, according to Malaysia's Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

The 11 members -- namely Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam -- also agreed on the text of the agreement, which has been renamed as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership or CPTPP in short.

"Following the withdrawal of the US from the TPPA deal, the remaining countries have decided the way forward to implement the agreement is by suspending a limited number of provisions, while maintaining the high standard and comprehensive nature of the agreement," MITI said in a statement today.

US President Donald Trump earlier this year turned his back on the TPPA brokered by his predecessor Barack Obama in favor of his “America First” stance.

Following that, the trade deal was in limbo, though many of the remaining members had voiced they were keen to push forward with it when they met at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit this week in Da Nang, Vietnam. But on Friday, there were reports of Canada saying it was not ready to move forward with the trade deal as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau skipped a planned meeting to discuss it, and that talks to revive the agreement had collapsed.

Now, despite Canada's hesitation, MITI said ministers of the 11 countries have agreed on 20 provisions to be suspended, and that a number of issues remain to be finalised before the signing of the agreement, though it did not give a timeline. MITI minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed highlighted that among the provisions to be suspended that are of interest to Malaysia include biologics, patent term adjustment and copyrights.

To finalise the outstanding issues, he said Malaysia will continue to work closely with other countries in the work programme.

"The signing of the CPTPP will be decided by all parties once all the technical work and outstanding issues are finalised. Following the signing, the agreement is open for ratification. The agreement will enter into force once six signatories have ratified it," the statement read.

MITI stressed that despite the absence of the US, Malaysia still stands to gain benefits from market access to countries like Canada, Peru and Mexico.

“Overall, we believe that the benefits from CPTPP will outweigh its costs in the context of Malaysia. Our continued involvement in the CPTPP is a testament of Malaysia’s commitment to globalisation and multilateralism”, said Mustapa.

Another consideration, he said, is the impact to the local economy should Malaysia decide not to join the CPTPP, while the remaining 10 countries move ahead. "We will not only miss out on the opportunities to strengthen our trade and investment ties with these 10 countries, but also with those countries that have registered their interest to join the CPTPP in future," he said.

“The agreement reached here in Da Nang, Vietnam will be brought back for further engagement with the relevant stakeholders back home," he added. - The Edge

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