KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 – Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has reassured Malaysians that the country stands to gain from an expanded market base by joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) as the current 12 countries negotiating the pact will potentially increase to 20 in time to come. The Prime Minister said if Malaysia stayed out of the TPPA, it would have a lot to lose, given that it is an export-oriented country forming an integral part of the global free trade regime. He also said the TPPA had the potential of offering a wider market access, not just for companies operating in Malaysia, but also attract global investors to set up business in the country.

As such, the TPPA can make Malaysia an attractive investment destination and at the same time, enhance foreign direct investments (FDI), he added, when interviewed on the “Ruang Bicara Khas” talk show over Bernama TV and aired on the Astro 502 channel Saturday night. Najib was interviewed for an hour at the Prime Minister’s Office by Bernama Editor-in-Chief Datuk Zulkefli Salleh, BernamaTV Chief Executive Officer Datuk Ibrahim Yahaya and Bernama Assistant Editor Jamaluddin Muhammad in conjunction with Umno’s 68th anniversary on May 11. “Malaysia is a significant trading nation. Our total trade is 167 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), placing us among the biggest trading nations of the world.

“Companies can export from Malaysia without being subject to tariffs or low tariffs. So, we have an added advantage for investors,” he said. Malaysia’s trade last year expanded by 4.6 per cent to RM1.36 trillion from RM1.309 trillion in 2012, boosted by a better export performance. The country is set to achieve total trade growth of between five and six per cent this year, amid broad recovery in electrical and electronics exports. Approved investments in Malaysia hit another record high of RM216.5 billion last year, up from RM167.9 billion in 2012.

A 21st century free trade agreement, the TPPA is currently being negotiated among 12 countries in the Pacific Rim, involving Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Mexico, Chile, the United States and Canada. These countries account for up to 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. Taiwan and South Korea had expressed interest in TPP membership last year. Najib urged all Malaysians to evaluate the country’s involvement in the ongoing TPPA negotiations on a broader perspective.

“What are the implications if Malaysia were to stay out of the TPPA? There is definitely a cost. We will not see the cost today, which is why we have to evaluate our overall preparations pertaining to the TPPA. “Besides, we must also ensure that we do not sign anything that can undermine our interests. “I am not saying that we can gain in all areas. So long as our benefits outweigh the sacrifices that we may have to make, it will be good for us,” he added. At a joint press conference in conjunction with the United States President Barack Obama’s visit last month, Najib, who is also the Finance Minister, said Malaysia was committed to the process of gaining acceptance of the people before signing the TPPA and presenting it to Parliament.

“We are working around the sensitivities and challenges, with the intention of ironing out a deal in the near future,” he added. Meanwhile, Obama said the TPPA would benefit Malaysia in achieving high-income nation status by 2020. He believed that the TPPA was the right thing as it created jobs and businesses which would benefit countries such as Malaysia that are transitioning from labour-intensive orientation to high-skilled-labour driven. The TPP is a trade agreement to manage trade, promote growth and integrate the economies of the region that represent a huge market of 800 million. So far, 19 formal rounds of the TPPA negotiations have been held.

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