KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 2019 : BANTAH, a coalition of various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has urged the government not to rush into concluding the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
A leaked version of RCEP negotiations which began in 2012 during the previous administration of Barisan Nasional (BN) government has revealed a set of commitments and obligations that cover almost every aspect of Malaysia’s socio-economic life.
“RCEP is part of a new breed of so-called ‘trade’ agreements that are not just about trading goods. These agreements include services, investment, intellectual property, government procurement, state-owned enterprises, e-commerce and more.
“Malaysia also has much nation-building to do. We cannot afford to be strait-jacketed by trade and investment rules that predominantly reduce government policy space and national sovereignty in order to increase multinational corporate interests at the expense of the rakyat,” it said in a statement today.
BANTAH formerly known as Badan Bertindak Bantah TPPA is a coalition of 61 NGOs and 10 coalitions which oppose unfair free trade agreements that would harm Malaysia.
It said the BN government signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP) in March 2018 just before the 14th General Elections and “…we can see how harmful it can be to Malaysia…”
“…so we welcome the Pakatan Harapan government’s decision not to rush to ratify the CPTPP. However, many CPTPP chapters were copied and pasted to the leaked RCEP text by countries such as Japan and South Korea.
“BANTAH strongly believes that the rakyat must know that the RCEP in its form and scope that is now being negotiated is a clear and present danger to Malaysia – to its people, its workers, its farmers, its economy, its small and medium-sized businesses (SME), its environment, its policy space and thus its legislation, democracy, and sovereignty,” it said.
RCEP is a multilateral trade agreement involving the 10 member states of ASEAN including Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and its six FTA partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.
The RCEP negotiations were launched during the 21st Asean Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in November 2012, with the final round kicking-off today and conclude by Sept 27.
The Ministries/agencies leading the RCEP negotiations include the International Trade and Industry Ministry (coordinating ministry), Communications and Multimedia Ministry, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, Finance Ministry, Bank Negara Malaysia and the Attorney-General’s Chambers. – Bernama