Convince the MPs and the Public of the positive aspects of ratifying the CPTPP based on the latest developments
We should take the recent new applications to join the CPTPP by the UK, China and Taiwan as positive signs that the CPTPP is a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which is worth joining from an economic perspective.
To date, Malaysia has not yet ratified the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and as such, we do not have a say in the setting of the terms and conditions by which to allow these new applicants (and future applicants) to join the CPTPP. To date, eight out of the 11 countries have already ratified the CPTPP including two of our ASEAN neighbours namely Singapore and Vietnam. Only Malaysia, Brunei and Chile have yet to ratify the CPTPP.
Since several amendments have to be passed in parliament in order to ratify the CPTPP, the MITI Minister has the responsibility of convincing the MPs from ALL parties that the positive impact of ratifying the CPTPP will outweigh the costs. These confidence building measures should include the following:
- Listing all the amendments which need to be passed in parliament in order to ratify the CPTPP in the interest of transparency (To date, MITI has not released a list of these amendments yet).
- Explain how the implementation of each of these amendments can result in positive outcomes for specific segments of the Malaysian economy and also for the larger population, especially for the workforce and the consumer.
- Calculate the potential benefits to Malaysia of the new applicants to join the CPTPP. How much more will Malaysia benefit from China joining the CPTPP given that we already have an FTA with China via the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)? What about the UK and Taiwan? For this, MITI needs to update the cost benefit analysis which was conducted for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) in 2015.
- Examine the preliminary evidence of positive economic impact from the countries which have already ratified the CPTPP, taking into account the impact of COVID19 on the global economy.
- Explain the difference between countries which have already ratified the CPTPP and those which have not yet ratified the agreement when it comes to participation in the various committees for the CPTPP and in each of the 5 CPTPP Commissions which have met since 2019.
The process of explaining the benefits of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) to ALL MPs is an important test of the sincerity of the Keluarga Malaysia government in the process of engagement. A good start will be the engagement process that the MITI Minister chooses to undertake in explaining the amendments to Malaysian laws in order to ratify RCEP.
I sincerely hope that the MITI Minister will not take the support of Pakatan Harapan (PH) MPs for granted with respect to FTA ratification just because we have signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the government.