- Published on Tuesday, 16 July 2013 10:38
KUALA LUMPUR: Negotiations on the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) are not expected to be concluded by its October deadline due to the many issues yet to be addressed, said International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) secretary-general Datuk Dr Rebecca Sta Maria.
"We are in the 18th round of negotiations and there are strong rumours we are going to sign it in October. No, that's not going to happen because there are so many areas where we have not reached consensus," she told reporters at a forum and dialogue to clarify issues related to TPP organised by the Young Entrepreneur Organisation Malaysia yesterday.
"It's a negotiation among equals. I keep stressing this is not a negotiation of one against 11 but it is a negotiation of equals. If even one party doesn't agree you cannot have conclusions," she added.
Yesterday, Malaysia and 11 other Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) partners converged on Kota Kinabalu for the 18th round, with an eye on concluding negotiations by year-end.
Sta Maria said there are many areas that have not been addressed such as intellectual property rights.
"It is also not true that you need to be invited. A country decides to join. All 21 countries can choose to be part of it.
"We chose to be there early so that we understand what's going on. If you are not in it (TPPA negotiations), you cannot shape the rules."
She also said Miti will look at developmental aspects of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) including how the TPPA can help SMEs grow and take advantage of the opportunities that will be created from the agreement.
"It is an arrangement that would help us cooperate to ensure our SMEs can take advantage of whatever opportunities that arise," she said.
"We've done engagement with SMEs. SME Corp Malaysia and the Malaysia External Trade Development Corp have been doing this on a continuous basis.
"We will continue to do it and step it up. SMEs are very important to our economy and we will never jeopardise our indigenous companies for anything."
The TPP is an on-going plurilateral negotiation involving Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.
The 12th country, Japan, participated for the first time during the 18th round of negotiations which began yesterday and will end on July 25 in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
- Eva Yeong/ theSun