PRESS STATEMENT BANTAH TPPA MAY 14, 2015 TPPA: NO FAST TRACK, STOP NEGOTIATIONS

May 18, 2015 Publish by MTEM

Berikut adalah kenyataan media dari Bantah TPPA berkenaan gesaan untuk kerajaan menghentikan rundingan TPPA

Kenyataan adalah di dalam versi Bahasa Inggeris sahaja.

 

PRESS STATEMENT BANTAH TPPA

MAY 14, 2015

 

TPPA: NO FAST TRACK, STOP NEGOTIATIONS

Recent developments over the past few days have shown that US President Barack Obama does not have enough support within his own party to push forward the TPPA, which should serve as a warning to all TPPA negotiating countries, especially Malaysia, to stop further talks until the president is accorded legitimate authority needed to close the controversial trade deal.

US President Obama cannot convince party members to support TPPA Fast Track bill

In a surprising move on Tuesday, senators from President Barack Obama’s own party voted to block debate on a “Fast Track bill” known as the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) which would grant the US president the power to present the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) to Congress for a Yes or No vote without allowing for amendments.

The US Senate should have been where Obama could get firm support from Democrats; however, this was not the case. The vote of 52 (for) to 45 (against) – which is short of the 60 out of 100 votes needed – shows that Obama lacks concrete and legitimate support even from his own party representatives on the current provisions within the TPPA.

In a Guardian news report, Republican senator John Cornyn said: “Really it’s a question of does the president of the United States have enough clout with members of his own politicial party to produce enough votes to get this bill debated and ultimately passed.”

The report also added that “Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner for the 2016 presidential race and historically a supporter of free trade, has been cautious amid growing concern over the effect of globalisation on middle-class jobs, warning against ‘trade for trade’s sake’.”

The senators opposing the Fast Track bill had demanded for it to be packaged with three other pieces of trade legislation which includes a customs bill that would address currency manipulation.

Lori Wallach, director and founder of Global Trade Watch said: “The Senate vote-down shows two things for real: (i) A TPP without currency provisions is DEAD in Congress and (ii) overall Fast Track has become super unpopular politically.”

The Senate opposition of course will not kill the TPPA. However it shows that Obama does not have the support of almost half the Senate.

Even though it was later reported that the opposing sides had come to an agreement following the shocking vote results, the effect on the president’s credibility is incredibly negative; as one media report stated, Obama has failed “to keep a lid on mounting tensions” within his own party.

 

 

 

Wake up call for Malaysian MPs

The lack of majority support for the TPPA among US lawmakers should serve as a wake-up call to our parliamentarians. If they can question their president on details within the TPPA which can negatively impact their local industries and workers, we should too. Our lawmakers should demand more transparency and question every little detail of this US-led trade agreement from our government. Both sides, whether Barisan Nasional or Pakatan, have not been vocal about protecting Malaysia and Malaysians from the future detrimental effects of the TPPA which we have already outlined in our previous statements.

As they meet on Monday for a fresh parliamentary session, Bantah calls on our MPs to make their voices heard on this important matter. They should be as thorough as their US counterparts in discussing the implications of the TPPA. All MPs, as well as government  ministers, should be thoroughly and publicly discussing this “deal” touted to be the free trade agreement of the 21st century.

They should be BOLD, they should ask TOUGH questions, they should say NO if there is a LEGITIMATE reason to do so.

Negotiating without Fast Track will cause Malaysia more harm in the future

Despite numerous calls by Bantah and other civil society organisations for Malaysia to back out of the TPPA, the government insists on going ahead.

Bantah believes it is still not too late to do the right thing. The Malaysian government should STOP negotiations until Fast Track is approved by both the US Senate and House of Representatives which make up the US Congress.

In the current situation where the USA does not have Fast Track authority, one committee chair or a few senators in the US Congress can reopen the TPPA text after the agreement has been concluded in order to demand more concessions from Malaysia (for example, stronger intellectual property protection that would make medicines and textbooks more expensive for a longer period or removal of Malaysia’s proposed safeguard for tobacco control measures) as a condition of passing the trade deal.

 

Countries such as Canada, Chile and Japan have wisely insisted on the US having Fast Track authority before making concessions on remaining sensitive issues so that they can be assured of not having to make further concessions beyond their red lines for the TPPA to be passed by the US Congress.

 

Malaysia, however, does not appear to be insisting on the US having Fast Track authority before it is supposed to make its final concessions in the TPPA negotiations this month. Unlike other TPPA negotiating countries, Malaysia is naively willing to give even more concessions to each individual US congressional committee chair and US senators in a one-sided negotiation where the US gives nothing, in order for the TPPA to pass the US Congress.

 

The Senate protest lasted only a day. But this is not a surprise. Wallach said the Senate vote did not kill Fast Track BUT it will “indeed end dead, but that will happen in the House of Representatives”.

Malaysia must be firm and not make ANY further concessions in the TPPA without Fast Track authority actually being granted by both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate.

In fact, TPPA negotiations should be SUSPENDED until Obama gets the green light.

 

 

It is STUPID for the Malaysian government to continue discussions without Fast Track being approved.

It is a waste or resources to continue negotiating.

Malaysia should stand firm on this matter.

No Fast Track, Stop Negotiations.

 

Mohd Nizam Mahshar

Chairman

Bantah TPPA

 

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Bantah TPPA is represented at the Press Conference by:

Mohd Nizam Mahshar, Chairman of Bantah TPPA and CEO of MTEM

Azlan Awang, Bantah TPPA committee member

Mohd Rizal Jaapar, Bantah TPPA committee member and COO of MTEM

Fauwaz Abd Aziz, Bantah TPPA committee member and Director of IDRIS Institute

 

 

 

 

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