Apa Itu TPPA? TPPA stands for Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and is also known as the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement. It is a multilateral free trade agreement currently being negotiated by 11 countries, led by the US. Malaysia is one of the parties negotiating in the TPPA. It aims to further liberalise the economies of the Asia-Pacific region. Covering a broad spectrum of areas and has 29 chapters (and counting), some areas affect our public health, environment and courts system. It is labeled as a trade agreement but only 5 chapters are related to trade out of the 29 chapters.
1. If MITI is sincere about conducting a comprehensive engagement, YB Dato’ Sri Menteri must be able to guarantee that this negotiation will neither be pursued further nor signed until all matters of concern were answered and a thorough economic and social impact studies of TPPA were published.
2. MTEM demands guarantee from YB Dato’ Sri Menteri that the nation’s sovereignty and law will be governed and protected at all cost, and that our policy space not be dictated by foreign influence. Such requires a guarantee that no part of the law, constitution and national policies be amended simply to fulfill the demands of the ‘regulatory coherence’ chapter in the TPPA.
3. MTEM demands the guarantee of YB DAto’ Sri Menteri that there will be no TPPA provisions subjecting our country into court/international tribunal (ISDS), thus overriding our own legal process. FTA legal cases involving Germany, Canada, Mexico, Equador, Peru and South Africa must not be allowed to take precedence in Malaysia.
4. How will YB Dato’ Sri Menteri guarantee that Malaysia will not be sued (through ISDS provision) if foreign corporation’s profits had to be reduced due to existing law or policies in our country? And what assurance can you give to prevent foreign companies from taking matters to ISDS when government projects are awarded to local companies instead of the foreign corporations?
5. MTEM is also seeking assurance from YB Dato’ Sri Menteri that the interest and welfare of local corporations are taken care first and foremost before any foreign entities; and that future policies or efforts must be driven towards developing and enhancing local talents (be it SMEs or GLCs), and not to consider those initiatives as a barrier to trade.
6. Trade goods. Referring to past USFTA, America demanded Malaysia to completely eliminate tariff for all goods and services except one. What is the one product exempted and what is the transition time allowed? Can you guarantee the sustainability of local enterprises despite total tariff removal of foreign produce (tobacco, automotive etc)? Referring to the WTO (2007) [wt/tpr/s/225/Rev.1]: Malaysia’s income from export duties was RM2.296 billion. Are we ready to lose such substantial income in exchange for a projected investment gain, not yet proven in any previous multilateral trade agreements before?
7. What is the government’s rational behind complying with TPPA’s negative lists? What are the sectors involved and what methods will the government apply in order to protect our services, businesses, and trading of SMEs or local companies from foreign competition? MTEM is seeking a guarantee from YB Dato’ Sri Menteri that new businesses must be allowed to thrive despite the negative lists.
8. Will government procurement be subjected to open international bidding in every economic sectors/clusters, or is it just in specific sector such as construction? And what will be MITI’s threshold for government procurement? Can YB Dato’ Sri Menteri guarantee the survivability of local SMEs; the majority of whom are still relying heavily on government procurement? Has the government done enough initiative and support to alleviate their dependencies and equip them to participate in an open market?
9. What are the recommendations from Australia and United States of America (USA) on GLCs/SOEs with regard to competition? Will SOE procurement and purchase be open to foreign bid as well and what will be the minimum threshold for them? Can YB Dato’ Sri Menteri guarantee that State Owned Enterprises such as TM, Khazanah, Petronas will continue to support the country’s social and development agendas?
10. What guarantee can Yb Dato’ Sri Menteri give on the sovereign rights of all the States in the Federation of Malaysia, including procurement and GLCs?
11. Can YB Dato’ Sri Menteri guarantee that consumer goods and the people’s cost of living will not increase because of TPPA? For example: the cost of medicine, health insurance, hospital treatment, rice, sugar, research and development, education etc?
12. What is your guarantee that the policies, locally produced goods and all government initiatives including ETP, 1Malaysia products, Bumiputeras and all entrepreneur support agencies, offset programs, transfer of technoloigies will not be seen as trade barriers? (USTR Trade Barrier Report in 2013 had labeled these programs as trade barriers)
13. Will YB Dato’ Sri Menteri guarantee that our culture, religious practice and syariah framework will be free from TPPA’s term and regulation? Especially when issues such as Halal has been categorized as a barrier to trade (refer to USTR Trade Barrier Report 2013). In similar instances, the freedom towards pornographic materials or sale of alcoholic beverages will be categorized as trade barriers too.
14. What is your guarantee towards human resource sector? Especially when TPPA dictates that no preferential treatment be given to local workers, or when the request to develop or hire local talents are considered as a barrier to trade?
15. There have been cases involving local company imposed with higher import tariff, as a form of penalty for failing to abide by the terms in the TPPA. In the most recent case (May 2013), import tariff imposed towards a local shrimp producer was 65% due to the company utilizing government grant and subsidy, which is an NKEA initiative. Will this kind of ‘punishment’ be imposed towards other sector?
16. The TPPA text will give the right to American companies to take legal actions against local corporations using American laws, thus overriding or own sovereign law. Can you refute such allegations and guarantee that it is not part of the TPPA negotiation?