Push to stop Parliament ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership

A recent article published in The Sydney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/push-to-stop-parliament-ratifying-the-transpacific-partnership-20160202-gmjiay.html, states that almost 60 community organizations have called for an independent assessment of the Trans Pacific Partnership before the Australian Parliament votes to ratify the agreement. Multiple groups, from the Public Health Association, to Greenpeace, to Catholic Religious Australia, and to the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, have signed a letter warning that the trade deal poses “grave risks to the public interest” if it is not independently assessed. The alliance of groups want an organization like the Productivity Commission to evaluate the TPP’s economic costs and benefits before their Parliament agrees to ratify it. The letter states, “We the undersigned 59 community organizations representing millions of Australians are gravely concerned about the Trans-Pacific Partnership text agreed by the US, Australia and 10 other Pacific Rim countries,” and “In the absence of such independent assessments, we consider that the TPP poses grave risks to the public interest and ask you to oppose the implementing legislation.” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb believe that the TPP is “a gigantic foundation stone” for Australia and that the deal will deliver “substantial benefits for Australia,” respectively. The TPP should be formally signed by Australia’s neighbor New Zealand this Thursday, and it is likely to be tabled in Australia’s parliament later this month.

Will an independent assessment change the Australian Government’s view on the TPP? What do you think an independent assessment would reveal?

TPP forced Labor unions a good news or bad news?

An article by Kenneth Kim titled “What the Trans-Pacific Partnership Means For Investing In Vietnam” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/kennethkim/2015/11/07/what-the-trans-pacific-partnership-means-for-investing-in-vietnam/#60ac42c97733, dtd. Nov 7, 2015) comments on the forced creation of Union rights for Vietnamese people. While agreeing that Vietnam is perhaps the biggest gainer in the deal and that the deal will fast track its economy (which is currently is a very good shape) to be among top 20 soon, he also mentions concern of some groups that by forcing creation of union rights, we are taking away Vietnamese Sovereignty. The author also mentions about the concerns that unionized labor in Vietnam will be ineffective and would be ignored in the name of profits. The author dismisses these concerns by taking example of China, which despite being a communist country, has strong provisions for unionization of workers. The author states that unionized workers in China earn more and work lesser hours than their non-unionized counterparts. Will unionization of workers have intended effects for Vietnam? And would the results seen in China be replicated in Vietnam?

 

Thousands gather in Malaysia for anti-TPP rally

According to an article posted on January 23rd, 2016 in Channel News Asia, http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/thousands-gather-in/2451410.html, almost 5,000 Malaysians staged a three hour protest on Saturday January 23rd against the Trans Pacific Partnership, just days before the Malaysian government is scheduled to vote on the free trade deal. The protest was led by the opposition party Parti Islan Se-Malaysia (PAS), non-governmental organizations, and student unions. Protesters were armed with banners and chanted anti-TPP slogans while they organized in Kuala Lumpur’s Padang Merbok. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has argued that Malaysia cannot afford to stay out of a trade deal whose participants account for 40% of the global economy. But opponents of the TPP say they fear that it would compromise national interests and favor foreign multinational companies over domestic Malaysian companies. It appears that some Malaysian citizens are worried about the impact of the TPP, but the Malaysian government is scheduled to vote on the trade deal this week.

Do you think the TPP will benefit Malaysia? Do you think that the Malaysian government will sign the trade deal?

Malaysia trade minister calls on parliament to pass TPP bill

According to an article posted on January 26th, 2016 in The Bangkok Post, http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/asean/840260/malaysia-trade-minister-calls-on-parliament-to-pass-tpp-bill, Malaysia’s trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed warned Tuesday that Malaysia will lag behind Vietnam if it does not accept the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal as parliament began a session to debate and vote on the free trade act. According to Mohammed, “Thirty years ago, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan were at the same level of development. Today, the other three are developed nations while Malaysia is still stuck in the middle-income trap,” and “We don’t want to be overtaken by Vietnam or other neighboring countries.” He is worried that “Malaysia will regret it if we do not sign the TPPA as investors will look at countries like Vietnam as a more attractive investment destination.” Just as in some of the other member countries, the TPP has received criticism in Malaysia from some parties. Last Saturday, thousands took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur in a last ditch attempt to stop the Malaysian government from signing the deal. The crowd’s contentions range from an increase in medicine prices, erosion of sovereignty, to further economic displacement of ethnic Malaysians. The members of the Malaysian House are scheduled to vote on the deal on Wednesday, and the senate are scheduled to vote on the deal on Thursday.

Do you think that the TPP will benefit Malaysia? Will the Malaysian government sign the trade deal?

Malaysia risks losing out if it rejects TPP, warns minister

An article published January 15th, 2016 in The Malaysian Insider, http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/malaysia-risks-losing-out-if-it-rejects-tpp-warns-minister, states that Malaysian International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed believes that Malaysia risks losing its attraction as an investment destination of manufacturers and service providers for the TPP market if they decline to be a part of the trade deal. According to Mustapa, “Malaysia will face more intense competition from Vietnam and Singapore in wooing foreign investments if we do not join TPP,” and “We will also lose the first-mover opportunity, while local and foreign companies operating in Malaysia might scale down their operations.” Over the past 5 years of difficult negotiations over the TPP, Malaysia has been granted several exemptions and flexibilities to help defend its own national interests. Mustapa is also quoted as stating that the “government feels that there are more advantages than disadvantages in joining the TPP.” He was cited stating that wider market access, a comprehensive integration in the supply chain at global and regional levels for small and medium enterprises, and an upsurge in investments as examples of positives of the TPP for Malaysia. It is apparent that Mustapa and the Malaysian government believe that the TPP is imperative for the continued success of the Malaysia economy.

Will Malaysia approve the TPP? Do you the TPP will benefit Malaysia as much as Mustapa believes?

Turnbull shifts tone of US alliance to economics

An article published on January 19th, 2016 in The Australian Financial Review, http://www.afr.com/news/politics/malcolm-turnbull-backs-us-leadership-in-asia-as-essential-to-china-20160118-gm8nwu, discusses several economic issues between Australia and the United States. It states that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is urging the US Congress to pass the 12 country Trans Pacific Partnership deal. According to Mr. Turnbull, “Free trade is not just good for jobs. It is good for security. The more we trade, the more we rely on each other; the more our supply chains stretch across countries and borders the more there is to lose by a disturbance in the security and order on which our prosperity is founded.” Mr. Turnbull not only stressed the economic importance of signing the trade deal, but also how the international norms and institutions that the US has promoted over the last 75 years has helped provide stability and security in prior free trade deals. Turnbull states, “So central is the Asia-Pacific to the world economy, to global stability, that the preservation of the international order and the peace that it brings has been a consistent and absolutely central objective of both the United States and Australia.” It is very apparent that both the TPP and the Asia-Pacific economy are vital to the continued success of many nations, including both the US and Australia.

What could hold back Congress from approving the TPP? Will the presidential elections have any effect on the US ruling for the TPP?

Singapore the largest indirect beneficiary of TPP?

An article titled “10 benefits the Trans-Pacific Partnership will bring Singapore” (published in The Strait Times, dtd 11/16/2015 by Chia Yan Min http://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/10-benefits-the-trans-pacific-partnership-will-bring-spore) explores the impact of TPP on Singapore. The article notes that the direct impact of TPP on Singapore will be marginal and only 2 new markets, viz. Mexico and Canada will open up. The article notes that the Singapore will benefit more indirectly from the deal. Firstly, the deal, which includes countries with 40% of world GDP and 1/3rd of the world trade would mean a boost of trade among these countries. Singapore, with its logistics and financial infrastructure would be the beneficiary of the trade and financial services. Moreover, the trade boost in ASEAN and removal of equity restrictions would mean higher penetration of Singapore based consulting services for both companies expanding in South East Asia and Government services. But would economic opening up of borders between these countries signal a danger sign for Singapore based companies? Would these services, which are touted to be game changers for Singapore, not shift entirely to other countries like Viet Nam or Malaysia? And considering some protection provided to smaller TPP nations in regards to local content, how much will Singapore actually benefit?