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Tag: TPP

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Help us analyse the TPP

TPP

 

The full text of the TPP was released for the first time last week. This is a voluminous document, in thousands of pages. I am now asking for volunteers to help my office read through the documents. We have until the end of November to analyse the text before we begin to prepare policy documents for debate at the Special Session of Parliament in January 2016.

I need about 20 good lawyers or law students to volunteer.

Here’s how you can get involved:

  1. Read any part of the TPP that you are interested in. The full text is available here.
  2. Click the links to the forms below to tell us what you have found in the document. Please fill in according to the Chapter you are referring to.

 

Chapter 1: Initial Provisions and General Definition 

Chapter 2: National Treatment and Market Access of Goods 

Chapter 3: Rules of Origin and Origin Procedures 

Chapter 4: Textiles and Apparel 

Chapter 5: Customs Administration and Trade Facilitation 

Chapter 6: Trade Remedies

Chapter 7: Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures 

Chapter 8: Technical Barriers to Trade 

Chapter 9: Investment

Chapter 10: Cross-Border Trade in Services 

Chapter 11: Financial Services

Chapter 12: Temporary Entry for Business Persons

Chapter 13: Telecommunications

Chapter 14: Electronic Commerce

Chapter 15: Government Procurement 

Chapter 16: Competition Policy

Chapter 17: State-Owned Enterprises and Designated Monopolies 

Chapter 18: Intellectual Property 

Chapter 19: Labour 

Chapter 20: Environment 

Chapter 21: Cooperation and Capacity Building 

Chapter 22: Competitiveness and Business Facilitation

Chapter 23: Development 

Chapter 24: Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

Chapter 25: Regulatory Coherence 

Chapter 26: Transparency and Anti-Corruption 

Chapter 27: Administrative and Institutional Provisions 

Chapter 28: Dispute Settlement 

Chapter 29: Exceptions and General Provisions 

Chapter 30: Final Provisions 

Bumiputera Agenda and TPPA

Bernama reports that the Bumiputera agenda will not be impacted by the TPPA, says MITI.

I am against the TPPA for many reasons, but primarily on the competitive and sovereignty issues. I believe in Keynesian/social market economy model and as such a government must lead but allow the market to operate within the overall national strategy and social goals. I am definitely against neo-liberal capitalism that create massive inequality and allow rouge banks to wreck havoc in the real economy.

The developed countries that now push for TPPA, had all previously benefited from market protectionism. Now that they are developed, they sing a different tune of “free market” and now want us to compete with them without protectionism.

When I was at the ASEAN Human Rights meeting in Jakarta 2 weeks ago, I met both Thai and Indonesian MPs whom spoke harshly against “free trade” and explained how it actually impedes their developing countries. These MPs are not fringe but are from current and previous ruling governments. MPs from all sides of Indonesian and Thai politics, are united in agreement not to be part of the TPPA. In Malaysia, Najib is pursuing “national interests” by playing golf with Obama.

However, if the TPPA is pushed through by Najib (legally, he does not need Parliament approval), as a nation we will have to take the bitter medicine of free trade, buck up our business operations and compete. So, I am not sure where the protection of the Bumiputera agenda, sits in the overall context of TPPA’s neo-liberal philosophy of “free trade”?

More fundamentally, BN will have to do a lot of soul searching and explain why only the non-Bumiputera businesses are being told to face the challenges of TPPA. Politically, it will be interesting to see how MCA, Gerakan and MIC, explain to their core tycoon supporters what Najib has negotiated on their behalf.

In the weeks to come, as the texts are released, we shall be able to fully assess the TPPA impact on the overall Malaysian economy.

The said Bernama article is reproduced below:

International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed said the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is the first free trade agreement to recognise Malaysia’s bumiputera agenda.

He said the government will continue to ensure the bumiputera agenda and rights of state governments is not impacted if the TPPA is signed.

“The bumiputera agenda has been recognised by our friends in the TPPA negotiations. Contracts reserved for bumiputeras will continue,” he added.

He said this at a session to clarify the TPPA, organised by the Kapten Hussein Leadership Academy in Kelana Jaya today.

Also present was Umno Youth chief and academy chairperson Khairy Jamaluddin, who is also Youth and Sports Minister.

Mustapa also stressed that bumiputeras are capable of competing at the international level.

“Mention oil and gas, and Petronas comes to mind. This company is a bumiputera company. Let us not downplay our abilities,” he said

The event was attended by about 100, including students and professionals.

– Bernama

ASEAN MPs Tax Justice Conference in Jakarta; and TPP agreement

I was in Jakarta for 3 days. I was joined by Malaysian MPs, YB Charles Santiago of DAP and YB Hanipa Maidin of Amanah. We met our Indonesian, Thai, Singaporean and Cambodian colleagues there.

We had a hectic schedule with 9 topics to cover including double taxation, trade mispricing and fiscal policies. My wife had asked me to get her favourite ginger sweets.

jak

There were about 18 MPs and influential politicians from ASEAN in this conference on Tax Justice. Another 20 plus people from NGOs were also here to run workshops.

YB Charles Santiago delivered the first speech of the day. YB Hanipa and myself also chaired a forum on double taxation.

Both YB Charles and I are in the TPPA caucus and it is somewhat ironic that we were discussing the dangers of TPPA with our Thai and Indonesian counterparts, when the news came through.

Yesterday’s signing of the TPPA in Atlanta was a major blow to us who oppose it. However it also means that the government can no longer hide the texts and cost benefit studies from the people. How transparent will the government be moving forward?

Najib and Obama are celebrating, for now. Obama will soon face the Senate whereas Najib will bring the matter to Parliament for a “public relations” exercise, because unlike Obama, Najib is empowered to sign trade agreement without Parliament approval. The special Parliament sitting to discuss TPPA (but no power to block) is slated to take place in January 2016.

Day 2 of my conference on Tax Justice in Jakarta focused on gender equality. I was seated with a Singaporean woman MP and also a Thai woman MP. In the Malaysian Parliament, we have a 11% woman representation. Singapore and Indonesia are both at 20% and Thailand 18%. So we are somewhat backward in political gender equality.

jak2

The funny thing about Thailand though, according to the Thai MP, is that a few of the women MPs are in fact proxy to their husband or father who have been banned from politics.

On Day 3, Indonesian MP Henky Kuniardi presented his views of economics. Henky is telling a narrative of how Indon senior servants were trained in US which resulted in neoliberal trickle down economics plus the believe to nurture conglomerates. These policies however resulted in monopolies and massive inequality. This corrupt economic system caused the downfall of Suharto.

The MP advises all nations not to blindly follow economic models from the West but to find our own paths based on social justice and democracy. The philosophy must be right foremost before any implementation.

He also said that the German tax model actively encourage each citizens upon birth, to have a tax identification. This system essentially plants the seed in every citizen since birth, that there is a social contract of tax and accountable governance.

It was a good three days here and the main message is ASEAN needs greater cooperation to prevent a race to the bottom tax war which will only benefit foreign companies.

Visiting Australian MPs; TPPA Caucus Meeting

This is an update of events in the last two days.

On Monday I was invited by Hannah Yeoh to the Speaker’s office in Shah Alam to help her meet and greet three visiting Australian MPs. YB Gan Pei Nei was also there to help out. Hannah chaired the meeting and briefed the visiting MPs of the work and reforms that she has introduced in Selangor in the last two years. I left the meeting sincerely impressed by her work and feeling very hopeful for the nation. Whilst most of us talk of reforms, Hannah has used her position of power to actually implement reforms. As long as we have sincere and hardworking leaders like her, Malaysia has a future.

ausmps

With YB Hannah Yeoh, YB Gan Pei Nei and visiting Australian MPs from both the Labor and Liberal Parties

After that I went to Parliament for a special TPPA Caucus briefing by the MITI Minister Mustapha Mohamed. I have said many times that Mustapha is very capable minister. If half of the cabinet is of his calibre, Malaysia will be a much better country. We may argue over positions on the TPPA but most of us from the TPPA Caucus cannot deny that he is hardworking and receptive of ideas. This is probably the Caucus’s 8th or 9th meeting and over time MPs from both sides have gotten to know each other better. So this meeting was particularly lively with Charles Santiago, Michael Jayakumar and myself from the Opposition engaging BN MPs of Jasin, Putatan and Kota Tinggi on all matters economic. With the current economic crisis, both sides were able to calmly discuss the causes and what possible actions need to be taken. Again, the meeting somewhat energised me because it appears that in times of crisis, a bipartisan approach is still possible to save the country.

tpp

MITI Minister, Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed

On Tuesday, I was invited to a long lunch with bankers and senior economists. We discussed politics and economics. I raised an issue with a senior economist seated next to me, regarding the Filipino workers in my neigbourhood Japanese Udon place. The entire Filipino cooking crew of 7 persons are leaving to go back to Manila because the Ringgit has lost considerable grounds (around 30%) against the Peso.

At a policy level, we have been urging the BN government for years to slow down and reduce foreign labour inflow, especially for the urban jobs. The deep availability of foreign workers has been a hindrance to automation and up-scaling of our industrial capabilities. But as we all know, the vested interests of agents and politicians to keep the inflow of foreign workers trade alive are just too strong.

However since the sudden depreciation of the Ringgit has caused a sizeable Filipino workforce to contemplate leaving, Malaysia could potentially face a massive workers crunch in the coming months. Instead of having a planned policy to reduce foreign workers, the Ringgit has now delivered a crisis to our doorsteps. In other words, besides inflation caused by rising import costs, we have been caught unprepared by an additional unintended consequence of the falling Ringgit. I fear that this phenomenon will further negatively impact the Ringgit with capital flight (as Filipinos take out all their money and convert to Peso) and cause major disruptions in industrial and services output.