Leading economist slams TPP-11 as Malaysia reviews ratification

January 17, 2019: While the TPP-11 came into force on December 30, 2018, with six of the eleven signatories ratifying, the new Malaysian government has not ratified the TPP-11 and is seriously reviewing their entire approach to trade and investment agreements.

A key economic adviser to the new government, Jomo Kwame Sundaram, wrote on January 8 that the rebadged Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership had much more to do with US geopolitical goals than improving trade, and that as TPP-11 the possible economic gains from it are really derisory.

Some minor changes were made to the TPP agreement for the CPTPP. Several onerous provisions were amended, and some others suspended, leaving most unchanged. Only a few CPTPP governments secured ‘side letters’, exempting them from some specific clauses.

Thus, most onerous TPP provisions remain. The CPTPP has committed Malaysia to further trade liberalization, accelerating deindustrialization, besides constraining the growth of modern services, development finance and ‘policy space’.

Jomo called for a turn away from bilateral and regional free trade agreements, towards a revival of the multilateral World Trade Organisation. “At the national level, developing country governments should amend legislation and policy in line with their needs, especially for development, not at the behest of corporate lobbyists or geostrategic priorities,” he concluded.