The Malaysian Insider 7 December 2015

A cost benefit analysis on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has shown that it benefits the Malaysian economy, the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) said today, while criticising Putrajaya for inadequate explanations of the contentious deal to the public. Ideas was commenting on the analysis of the 12-nation trade deal produced by the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (Isis) and PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), released last week.

“I am glad that both reports did not play down the many concerns raised by various parties about the TPP. 

“The fact that the two studies concluded that Malaysia would, overall, benefit from joining the TPP validate what we have been saying all along that liberalisation is good for the rakyat,” Ideas CEO Wan Saiful Wan Jan said in a statement today.

“Making an informed decision about Malaysia’s participation in the TPP requires a systematic and rational approach utilising the best possible evidence and analyses,” he added.

Wan Saiful also said that the government needed to get its “act together” to inform the public about the benefits of the trade agreement.

“So far it has done a lousy job at explaining the TPP despite having five years of negotiating it.

“It is unacceptable that the burden is piled on Miti alone, while other ministers behave as if they are unconnected to the process,” he said, referring to the lead agency in the TPP negotiations, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

He said that those who opposed the TPP had been influenced by “anti liberalisation” activists.

“These activists will oppose the TPP even when studies say it is good. “They have been opposing it for years, before reading the actual text of the agreement or digesting the conclusions from the two studies. Even now, they will continue to oppose it regardless of these recent developments,” he said.

Wan Saiful expressed “shock” at the amount of coverage TPP critics have gotten. “I expect that they will now be scrambling to find faults and attempt to discredit the two studies in order to save the little credibility that they have left. We must not be fooled and allow ourselves to be terrified,” he said.

“I urge everyone to read the two studies and decide based on the facts. We must ignore made-up accusations thrown by those who are driven by ideology rather than facts,” he added.

However, Wan Saiful said that Malaysia will not feel the full benefits of economic liberalisation until it does away with exemptions for its Bumiputera policies and government linked companies.

“I understand the short term political needs for these exemptions.

“But from the perspective of the longer term welfare of the rakyat, these exemptions will blunt the full benefits of the TPP. It would mean that Malaysia will not gain the maximum benefit from this round of liberalisation.” – 

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