At Asean meet, Obama says TPP will promote ‘accountable’ governance

21 November 2015
The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 — US President Barack Obama touted the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) today as a trade deal that would ensure more “accountable” governance and combat corruption among signatory nations.

Citing corruption as an issue plaguing countries worldwide, Obama maintained that the trade agreement — which was negotiated entirely in secret — would set higher standards of openness in partner nations that would help expose graft.

“Around the world and in Asia Pacific, the cancer of corruption is a daily indignity. Corruption drains billions of dollars that can be used to improve the lives of citizens.

“That’s why TPP includes the strongest anti-corruption and transparency standards of any trade agreement in history,” Obama said during his speech at the Asean Business and Investment Summit 2015 today.

He said the TPP would oblige member states to enforce legal measures against corruption for its implementation, which would encourage “stronger, more effective and accountable governments,”

The TPP is a free-trade agreement that has been negotiated by the US, Malaysia and 10 other nations as part of the larger Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership since 2010.

The secretive negotiations were finally concluded in October and the individual countries must now seek mandates to sign the agreement.

Obama today sought to allay concerns over the TPP, maintaining that it will help regulate trade, which could then allow nations to progress in other areas as well.

“The message I really want to deliver today is this, TPP is more than just a trade pact. It also has important strategic and geopolitical values.

“We know from experience that when trade is done right, it can help progress,” he added.

He also stressed that the trade agreement adhered by the “highest of standards” in areas of environment, human rights, and labour, which will be a “win” for all participating countries.

Critics maintain, among others, that the TPP’s rigid patent laws will stifle innovation and hurt access to affordable generic medication, while the controversial investor-state dispute settlement mechanism will erode the sovereignty of member states.

- The Malay Mail Online