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'2 more studies on TPPA under way'

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KUALA LUMPUR: The International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) will soon embark on two cost-benefit analyses to assess whether Malaysia should be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the terms of reference were being drawn up and the analyses could be carried out in two or three months.

"They will be undertaken locally as there is enough expertise," he said on the sidelines of the ministry's Hari Raya event yesterday.

The analyses will cover TPPA's impact on national and Bumiputera interests.

The cabinet had agreed to Miti's suggestion, which came about after growing public concern by several non-governmental organisations that Malaysia stood to lose out to advanced countries.

The TPPA involves Malaysia and 11 other countries -- Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

Before deciding to enter into TPP talks, Miti had commissioned the United Nations Development Programme to do a feasibility study, which revealed that TPP would help Malaysia achieve its Vision 2020 objectives.

Asked whether the results of the analyses would be made public, Mustapa replied: "In the spirit of more openness and transparency, there is no harm in releasing the results, which will be one of the considerations.

"The fact that we are embarking on two more studies shows that we are open to recommendations.

"Likewise, we welcome former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's comments and advice to the government on its stand on TPPA.

"Our stand must be in line with national interests, otherwise we will not ink the agreement.

"Miti plans to have more engagements with various organisations after the conclusion of the 19th round in Bandar Seri Begawan."

Negotiations this time around were initiated by a two-day TPP ministerial meeting.

Malaysia's bipartisan parliamentary caucus is also in Brunei to keep abreast of the developments.

"As agreed to during our open day on Aug 1, I will share whatever recommendations discussed in Brunei recently."

As to whether the negotiations could be concluded by the year-end, as said by some negotiators, Mustapa said there were still many outstanding issues and Malaysia was not bound by a timeline.


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