After five years of intense negotiations, Malaysia is still lobbying for resolutions on key sensitive areas in the controversial United States-led Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said he still could not see "the light at end of the tunnel" in the areas of Bumiputera rights, state-owned enterprises (SOE) and labour.
Mustapa said the ministry is also facing the challenge on how to convince Malaysians on the benefits of being party to the trade pact.
"We have some domestic challenges to overcome like the cost benefit analysis and convincing people the benefits for Malaysia if we participates in TPPA," he told reporters after a bilateral meeting with US Trade Representative Michael Froman in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
The meeting was held on the sidelines of the ongoing Asean Economic Ministers Meeting. U.S. Asean dialogue partner.
Mustapa said Malaysia is also concerned with the upcoming U.S. Presidential Election which may delay the negotiation process.
"The (election) process has started in U.S. That could impact the status of negotiations but this is a matter for them. We are only sharing Asean countries' concerns," he said.
Mustapha said Froman updated Malaysia on the present overall status of TPPA negotiations which look promising but without any exact timeline.
The TPPA is being negotiated between 12 countries - the U.S, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei. These economies which represent more than 40% of the world’s gross domestic product.
China, the world’s second largest economy, had initiated a counter Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) involving ten South-East Asian countries, Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
Malaysia will present the final draft agreement with the cost-benefit analysis to Parliament for deliberation and agreement.
TPPA was expected to open a market with 800 million population with a GDP of US$27.5 trillion to signatories.