KUALA LUMPUR: The Ministry of International Trade and Industry of Malaysia (Miti) spelt out eight compelling reasons for Malaysia to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), highlighting the benefits and the impact of participating in and withdrawing from the free trade agreement (FTA). Speaking at a roundtable on the TPPA yesterday, Miti deputy secretary-general Datuk J. Jayasiri said the agreement will enable Malaysia to have preferential access to countries with which it has never had FTAs before, including Canada, the US, Mexico and Peru. “With the single negotiations in TPP, we will get preferential access to these four countries,” he said. Jayasiri said Malaysia will also benefit from the elimination duties by these countries, which represents almost 90% of the tariffs. “That is a big deal,” he added, noting the TPP will add 8-9% to Malaysia’s global trade which stands at 65% currently, derived from the 13 FTAs it has signed so far. Second, he said, the TPPA provides liberalisation, protection and facilitation for outflows and inflows of investments. “Even while we are negotiating the TPPA, a few investors of non-TPPA countries are making enquiries to locate their manufacturing base in Malaysia, because they want to get access to the US market.” Third, he said, the country needs the FTA in order to enforce international standards on labour and environmental issues. Fourth, Jayasiri said, the negotiations contribute to good governance for the country, given the transparency and anti-corruption concerns that are included in the agreement. “Many people today take into account good governance when making investment decisions. Rating agencies also look at good governance, so these are matters that we need to consider.” Fifth, he said, there is recognition of the country’s rules, affirmative action and carve-outs in the agreement, which include halal and pharmaceutical concerns. Sixth, Jayasiri stressed, all the difficult issues addressed have transition periods, flexibilities and safeguards. “We actually have taken on board all concerns in the negotiations.” Seventh, he said, by staying in the TPPA, Malaysia will send the right signal that the country is open, business-friendly, worker-friendly and environment-friendly. “If we stay out, we are sending the opposite signal,” he said. On his final point, Jayasiri said Malaysia, if it opts out of the TPPA, will be seen as not being able to negotiate on high-standard FTAs. The discussion, which was organised by the Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute and the Centre for Public Policy Studies, touched on the TPPA’s impact on and benefits to different sectors, as well as on how to fill the gaps to provide better guidance on the implementation agreement.