KUALA LUMPUR: Economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram has urged Putrajaya to “do nothing” on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) so that it will not come into force.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress’ (MTUC) 70th anniversary, Jomo said ratification of the trade pact would create more problems than offer benefits.
He said there was a lot of “propaganda” to ratify the CPTPP based on falsehoods, including the lack of economic growth without it.
“It’s not true. It’s true that if you ratify the CPTPP, exports will increase a little bit but imports will increase even more,” he said.
He said a study by trade economist Rashmi Banga titled “CPTPP Implications for Malaysia’s Merchandise Trade Balance”, for instance, estimated that imports of Japanese cars would increase and swamp the market.
“Proton and Perodua can say goodbye,” he said.
Jomo said imports of plastic waste would also increase as Japan, Australia and Singapore, the three largest source countries of plastic waste in Malaysia, were part of the CPTPP.
The previous administration, he said, had issued over 160 plastic waste processing licences but most of the waste ended up in landfills.
Earlier, in his speech, Jomo warned of another issue with the CPTPP, that it would allow foreign companies to sue the government for stopping the sale of products even if they brought harm to Malaysians.
He cited the use of the top two weedkillers used in Malaysia, both of which were carcinogenic.
If the government ratified the CPTPP and banned the two weedkillers because of their cancer-causing effects, they could be sued by the companies which manufacture the weedkillers, he said.
He acknowledged that there was much misinformation from both the pro and anti-CPTPP factions but that the biggest misinformation came from those who were pushing for the trade pact.
Jomo said ratifying the CPTPP would create problems while rejecting its ratification might cause Malaysia to be seen as being against some of the other countries in the trade pact.
“Let us be neutral. Do nothing. Because even though you’ve agreed to sign it, without ratification it means nothing.”
Earlier this year, Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Ong Kian Ming said Putrajaya had yet to decide on whether Malaysia would ratify the CPTPP.
The CPTPP is a new version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) multilateral trade pact and comprises 11 member nations – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
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