The ministers and chief negotiators of the 11 member states of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP11) continued their deliberation for the second day today in order to reach a consensus ahead of TPP11 Leader's meeting tomorrow.
International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed said the meeting, which lasted until midnight yesterday, failed to reach a consensus.
"Although there were efforts to conclude TPP11 in Da Nang, so far no consensus could be reached as there were many contentions on the original agreement, including from Malaysia," he told the Malaysian media in Da Nang, Vietnam.
Mustapa said the TPP Ministers' Meeting hoped it would be able to submit a final or conclusive report to the heads of government today.
“But so far we have not arrived yet. But there is still hope," he said.
The TPP11 talks have picked up momentum after the United States had officially abandoned the alliance, he said, adding that, “In the give meetings we held since May, many issues were discussed, including through bilateral consultations.”
“At one stage we considered it difficult for the TPP to be revived, but some countries led by Japan feel that TPP11 is still worth it," he said.
Mustapa said although the US was no longer in the TPP, the coalition was still gaining the world’s attention and attracting foreign observers.
"There is also hope that one day the United States will rejoin the TPP. They are of the views that the present US situation is temporary, " he said.
He said this was because previously the US was a staunch supporter of the TPP and US companies, as well as Japanese companies were the strongest lobbyists for the trade deal.
Meanwhile, Mustapa said there were two approaches that could be taken to reach a consensus on the TPP11, firstly by adopting the existing TPP agreement and making some suspensions, or secondly, by overhauling and revising the trade pact.
"The approach taken now is that we accept the agreement but we want to make some exceptions on some provisions. We hope what we had concluded in New Zealand will be adopted.
“In general, we do not want to negotiate again, we feel it is better using the temporary suspension method, that is, some provisions in the agreement are temporarily suspended," he said.
Malaysia has also submitted several lists for the provision of suspension.
"We have explained why we had asked for certain suspension, convincing them and try to at least narrow the gap with other countries. Each country has their own unique position," he said
He said there was progress in the discussion, but there was still some gaps.
"This is why we’re meeting again today. The intention before coming here is to agree. We knew it is going to be difficult.
“My hunch is we have to bring up to the leaders and seek their guidance. Some decisions are really difficult,” he added.
Mustapa said all the 11 TPP member countries were committed to agree on the trade deal as they could see the value in the agreement and it was a game changer.