KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and members of the 11-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) have jointly opposed any renegotiations to accommodate the United States should the country decide to participate in the trade deal.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said any CPTPP renegotiations to make significant changes might be difficult as the trade pack had already achieved a balanced deal for all the countries involved.
He said while Malaysia welcomed the US’ participation, terms and conditions set in the trade deal would remain firm.
According to a Bloomberg report, ministers from Japan and Australia welcomed President Donald Trump directing officials to explore the possibility of returning to the CPTPP, a pact he withdrew from shortly after coming to office.
But they also cautioned against making any significant changes.
Mustapa, in his tweet yesterday, said “renegotiation will not only take a long time, but also alter the balance of benefits for parties”.
He reiterated Malaysia’s stance in February in Davos that CPTPP negotiations had gone as far as it could and would not be making any further concessions.
“He (Trump) wants it to be improved. So, he will only consider if the terms of the agreement are improved.”
“But, for Malaysia, we have gone very far in the negotiations and that is the maximum that we can go. Malaysia is in no position to make further concessions in the agreement,” said Mustapa.
Japan Finance Minister Taro Aso also welcomed the US’ decision to explore the possibility of rejoining the CPTPP.
“If it’s true, I would welcome it,” he said after a cabinet meeting in Tokyo, but added that he needed to verify the facts carefully.
Aso said he expected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump to discuss the trade deal at their summit meeting next week.
Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s minister in charge of TPP, told Bloomberg it would be difficult to change the deal, calling it a “balanced one, like fine glassware”.
“We welcome the US coming back to the table, but I don’t see any wholesale appetite for any material renegotiation of the TPP-11,” Australia Trade Minister Steven Ciobo told Bloomberg yesterday.
Trump, in his earlier tweet, said the US “would only join TPP if the deal were substantially better than the deal offered to President (Barack) Obama.
“We already have bilateral deals with six of the eleven nations in TPP, and are working to make a deal with the biggest of those nations, Japan, who has hit us hard on trade for years!”
Besides Malaysia, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam had inked the CPTPP.