The nation's sovereignty will not be harmed with the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) as the people are getting smarter and knowledgeable, International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed said.
He allayed concerns aired by certain quarters that the TPPA would trample on the nation's sovereignty.
"It is not fair to compare the past with the present situation as Malaysia today is not like before. We were colonised before as we had no means and knowledge then, but now Malaysia has many professionals and intellectuals.
"In fact, local firms like Petronas are also quite capable and are well-respected overseas," he told reporters after attending a briefing on the TPPA together with civil servants and members of the Terengganu business community in Kuala Terengganu today.
Also present were Terengganu State Assembly speaker Mohd Zubir Embong and state trade and industry committee chairperson Tengku Putra Tengku Awang.
Mustapa was responding to concerns raised by the Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia (DPMM) that the TPPA would affect the nation's sovereignty.
He said the TPPA however would actually give a positive impact on Malaysian companies that trade overseas based on profits of RM600 billion they achieved last year, compared with foreign companies' investments in the country which was only RM500 billion.
"This is a win-win situation actually, as it provides more room for local companies to explore business opportunities overseas," he said.
On the proposal by DPMM for the government to focus on business opportunities in the region, Mustapa said this was the main focus but at the same time, business opportunities in other countries such as in the African and American continents must also be explored.
"Of course, we will focus on trade relations with Asean countries, but it would be a waste if we do not take advantage of the opportunity of creating trade ties with other countries just because we are afraid of taking risks and only depended on certain countries for trade," he said.
Mustapa cited a recent World Bank report forecast on the gross domestic product (GDP) growth of countries that concluded the TPPA negotiations like Malaysia and Vietnam.
"Our GDP is expected to rise by an average of 1.1 percent by 2030 and this is a positive assumption made by the World Bank on Malaysia's economy.
"We had also conducted our own analysis through PWC (Price Waterhouse Coopers) which stated that Malaysian output would increase.
"As a whole, the TPPA would have a positive impact on Malaysia. However, we realised that there are several challenges, but we would ensure its implementation is in line with the country's economic interest," he said.