Malaysia seeks support to exclude tobacco from TPP

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 11, 2013): Malaysia is seeking support from other countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations to exclude tobacco from the agreement, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

SunBiz had on Sept 2, 2013 reported that the Malaysian delegation had sought to carve out the tobacco sector for special discussion at the recent 19th round of TPP talk in Brunei. However, industry players had said that they were not informed or consulted before it was tabled at the recent negotiation round.

"Those in the health sector said we should be firm on tobacco control, but we also have people who opined that what (controls) are already in place are sufficient. At the end of the day, the government has to make a stand on that," Mustapa told reporters yesterday after attending a three-hour meeting with 900 delegates on the TPP negotiations.

Mustapa said the delegates who attended yesterday had raised questions about tobacco control issue, and mostly were appreciative on a "carve-out" to manage the tobacco sector.

"Before that, people said there was a lack of transparency on TPP agreement and not too much has been revealed. This particular group of people is against the TPP agreement because they received information which was leaked from other countries. There has been a lot of speculation and we cannot blame them for that," he said.

"Tobacco control arises from our engagement with people who are fighting for better future of Malaysian's health. Now that we have put something on the table in Brunei, and we acknowledged this as an important step for our country, and they are very happy because their views are taken," Mustapa added.

The challenge now for Miti is to find alliances among other countries and to make sure that its opinion will gain support from other TPP countries.