TPPA more than just a ‘Trade Pact’, says Obama

21 November 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 : The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is more than just a trade pact as it also has important strategic and geopolitical benefits, US President Barack Obama said.

Speaking at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2015 (ABIS 2015) here today, Obama said the TPPA is a win for all participating countries and he is confident of it getting the approvals and moving forward.

“A new trade deal like TPP can be a tough sell. But the answer is not to stop trading — to try to build barriers that close any individual country off from the global economy. It’s not possible anymore.

“The answer is to do trade the right way — and that’s what TPP does,” he told the 500-strong ABIS 2015 attendees.

Obama, who is on his second visit to Malaysia, said that the TPPA is a long-term investment in shared security and in universal human rights.

“I want to be very clear, trade is not a panacea. It’s not a cure-all for the range of challenges our nations face. But we know from experience that when trade is done right, it can help fuel progress in other areas,” he said.

Obama said the TPPA would help build greater trust and cooperation among nations, bind the US even closer to its strongest allies in Asia, while allowing deeper partnerships with countries that are playing a rising role in ASEAN such as Malaysia and Vietnam.

“There is a link between economic security and national security, and that’s at the heart of ASEAN.

“So, TPP will help to advance the economic integration that underwrites peace and stability in this region,” he said.

It also allows all participating countries to write the rules for trade in the Asia Pacific for decades together, he added.

Obama said the TPPA had the strongest anti-corruption and transparency standards of any trade agreement in history.

It requires countries to have laws against corruption, including making it a crime to bribe a public official, and it requires countries to enforce those laws, he said.

“So TPP encourages rule of law, and stronger, more effective and more accountable governance,” he said.

While acknowledging the TPP as a win for the US, Obama pointed out that the trade deal was the first high standard trade agreement to level the playing field between private firms and state-owned enterprises.

“I’m not going to be shy about this. As President of the US, I make no apologies for fighting to open markets to American companies and workers,” he said.

Any economic disagreements should be resolved peacefully through dialogue, not through bullying or coercion, he said. Obama, arrived in Kuala Lumpur yesterday for the 27th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits.

Earlier, in his speech, Obama commended Malaysia as an outstanding host of this year’s ASEAN chair.

Malaysia and 11 other countries, namely Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Singapore, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the US and Vietnam concluded the TPP negotiations on Oct 5, 2015.

The content of the TPPA and two impact studies would be tabled in Parliament in January next year as it needs parliamentary approval before it is ratified two years after the signing of the pact. – BERNAMA