Don’t take Pakatan support for granted to ratify free trade deal, DAP MP tells Putrajaya – Malay Mail

Credit: Original article can be found here

Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming speaks during a press conferences in Kuala Lumpur May 3, 2021. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming speaks during a press conferences in Kuala Lumpur May 3, 2021. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali must convince Parliament to pass the law amendments required for Malaysia to ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming said the minister should not assume the Opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition will automatically support the government in the free trade deal “just because” they have signed a memorandum of understanding.

“I sincerely hope that the MIti minister will not take the support of Pakatan Harapan (PH) MPs for granted with respect to FTA ratification just because we have signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the government,” he said in a statement today.

Ong, a former deputy Miti minister, noted the recent applications from the UK, China and Taiwan to join the CPTPP, which he said is a sign that the trans-Pacific trade agreement is worth joining.

“To date, Malaysia has not yet ratified the CPTPP and as such, we do not have a say in the setting of the terms and conditions by which to allow these new applicants, and future applicants, to join the CPTPP,” he said.

The CPTPP is an agreement signed in 2018 by its members — Japan, Canada, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Singapore, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, Chile and Malaysia — that removes 95 per cent of tariffs between them.

At the time of signing, it was reported that at least six countries needed to make domestic amendments to complete the ratification process for the agreement to take effect.

Now only three members have not completed ratification, namely Malaysia, Brunei and Chile.

In April 3, 2018, it was reported that Miti secretary-general Datuk Seri J. Jayasiri said there were 18 laws needed to be amended before the CPTPP could be ratified.

It is unclear what these laws are, and how many have been passed since.

“Since several amendments have to be passed in parliament in order to ratify the CPTPP, the Miti minister has the responsibility of convincing the MPs from all parties that the positive impact of ratifying the CPTPP will outweigh the costs,” said Ong today.

He said that several “confidence building measures” were needed, including compiling a list of all amendments needed to ratify the CPTPP.

This he said was in the interest of transparency, adding that to date, Miti has not released a list of these amendments.

“Explain how the implementation of each of these amendments can result in positive outcomes for specific segments of the Malaysian economy and also for the larger population, especially for the workforce and the consumer.

“Calculate the potential benefits to Malaysia of the new applicants to join the CPTPP.

“How much more will Malaysia benefit from China joining the CPTPP given that we already have a free trade agreement with China via the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)? What about the UK and Taiwan?”

“For this, Miti needs to update the cost benefit analysis which was conducted for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) in 2015,” he added.

Ong also espoused the need for an examination into the positive economic impact from trading with countries which have already ratified the CPTPP, as well as an explanation of the different levels of participation allowed between countries that have already ratified the CPTPP and those that have yet to do so.