Malaysia's decision to be part of the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement (TPPA) is evident that the country is ready to adhere to high standards in trade and investment treaties.
It also goes to show that Malaysia has been and always will be a trade and investment-friendly country, chief negotiator J Jayasiri said today.
He also explained that previously Malaysia was part of the European Union's (EU) Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), which allows developing country's exporters to pay less on their exports to the region.
However, now Malaysia is no longer in the list, and this was another reason for the need to participate in such a high-standard treaty like TPPA, he said.
Jayasiri, who is also the International Trade and Industry Ministry's (Miti) deputy secretary-general, said this at a forum titled ‘TPPA: Pemuda Tanya, Pakar Rujuk Jawab’ organised by Umno Youth in Kuala Lumpur.
"We also want to negotiate with the EU, as many industries have experienced disadvantages since the EU removed Malaysia from the list," he said.
Besides the TPPA, the other Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) that are in the pipeline includes Malaysia-EU as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
Malaysia has said that it is still open to having the Malaysia-EU FTA, although the talk which started in 2010 is currently stalled.
The EU is the third most important trading partner of Malaysia and the second largest source of foreign direct investment.
Hence, joining the TPPA is also a way for Malaysia to communicate to the EU its readiness to raise its standards on par with the international level.
Jayasiri also explained to the participants on how Malaysia managed to secure flexibility which were favourable to some domestic policies while negotiating the terms and regulations upon joining the TPPA.
Among these, Malaysia has been given a longer time as compared with other countries to reduce and remove tariffs on certain products.
"The TPPA is a comprehensive trade agreement, and during the five-year negotiation process, we managed to raise the needs to have some flexibilities after considering some concerns by the stakeholders," said Jayasiri.
Meanwhile, Firdaos Rosli, a fellow at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia, said Malaysia needed to seize the opportunity to be a part of the agreement because it would be beneficial to its future.
He said Malaysia has to widen its door towards the global market and not only focus on certain blocks of business and investments any more.