(MENAFN- Asia Times)
Malaysia ratified the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on September 30. It comes into force on Wednesday, November 30. One hopes that the new Malaysian government will postpone its enforcement until a thorough cost-benefit analysis of the CPTPP is done and the findings presented to Parliament for debate.
A postponement is necessary because the agreement impinges upon Malaysia's national sovereignty as no other multilateral economic arrangement does. It affects the ability of the Malaysian state and society to protect the well-being of its workers and people.
If a dispute arises between a foreign enterprise operating in Malaysia and the Malaysian government over some issue pertaining to the safety of workers, the matter will be referred to an international arbitration panel whose decision would be final. Local courts would have no say.
It is also alleged that the implementation of the CPTPP will witness a sharp increase in the price of medicines. Imported medicines will be protected by much tighter intellectual property laws. This will undoubtedly have a negative impact on our ability to provide affordable health care to the poorer section of society.
The proposed trade agreement will also have an adverse impact on the farming community. Farmers who for millennia have developed new varieties and strains through their own effort and initiative will now have to purchase seeds from huge agribusinesses. This not only weakens the position of the average farmer but it also tightens the grip of cartels and monopolies over the already vulnerable farming sector.
For all these reasons a large number of non-governmental organizations and other groups in Malaysia have come together to ask the government to postpone the enforcement of the CPTPP. This move initiated by the Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) has so far garnered the support of 70 organizations. They represent the collective voice of thousands of concerned Malaysians.
Malaysia should not be under the illusion that if it is not part of the CPTPP it will not be able to benefit from lower tariffs for goods and services. Malaysia is already a member of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which brings together all 10 ASEAN states and five other nations in the Asia-Pacific region, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
RCEP, formed on January 1, 2022, is the world's largest free-trade agreement. It covers a third of the global population and accounts for about 30% of the planet's GDP. Malaysia has every reason to ensure that RCEP, which is an ASEAN initiative, succeeds.
Compared with RCEP, it is crystal clear why CPTPP is not in Malaysia's best interests.
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