International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (second from right) attending an outreach programme to brief the public in Sabah on the TPP agreement. Pic by Datu Ruslan Sulai

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia needs to decide whether it will join Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by mid of January next year, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

Speaking at the outreach programme to brief the public in Sabah on the TPP agreement here, he said, "The parliament session might end sometime mid of January next year, so presenting the TPPA case can happen anytime between now and then.

"We stil have to take into factors such as the upcoming national budget presentation. But for now, it cannot go beyond middle of January 2016 to decide if we are signing the TPPA or not .. which means our Parliament has to sit and discuss before that," he told reporters.

While not specifying any dates, he said when the TPPA document text is out soon, the public will know a lot more in certainty and can delve on it.

"They are now going through what you call legal scrubbing, what was agreed upon and translated into text.

"We have 30 chapters and after it was made public, at that point of time there might be a need for another round of discussions.

"This (making it public) is important as before the Parliament make its judgement, the people has got to be educated and told what TPP is all about," he explained.

Mustapa said the findings of the two cost and benefit studies done by independent bodies are also expected to have a bearing on the perception of the TTP.

"The government can't push it (TTP) down the throat of Malaysians... To be fair, we decided to have the studies and see things on technical (terms), certainly the findings will have some influence on the way people react to TTP," he added, stating that the studies might be completed around the same time ‎the TPPA text went public.

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