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Anwar Ibrahim

Posted: 12 Jan 2016 07:05 PM PST

Anwar Ibrahim


Malaysian economist warns of job losses under trade pact

Posted: 12 Jan 2016 01:40 AM PST

Turkish Weekly- P Prem Kumar

A former senior United Nations (UN) official has urged Malaysia to reconsider joining the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, warning that it could result in inequality and net job losses among the 12 participating countries.
Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former UN assistant secretary-general and prominent economist, said Monday that the negative impact would incur over a ten-year period after the ratification processes were completed.

“The economic gains from the TPP would only be negligible at 3 percent over the span of 10 years for developing countries in the pact while developed countries would only see gains of less than 1 percent in the same period,” he said at a forum in Kuala Lumpur about the regional pact with the U.S.

The economic gain findings were part of a yet-to-be released UN study on the impacts of the TPP that Sundaram had been leading.

The full study uses the UN's own global policy economic model – or GPM – to anticipate the trade deal's impact on its 12 member countries.

Sundaram warned Monday that the TPP would also "significantly cut the government’s ability to craft national policy."

He said it was "unlike previous trade pacts" due to its introduction of "new rules for how a country manages, among others, intellectual property rights, labor affairs and the operations of government-linked companies.”

It also allows foreign investors to sue governments through the Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism for loss of business and potential profits as a result of national policy decisions.

Before joining the UN, Sundaram was widely recognized as an outspoken intellectual in Malaysia with unorthodox non-partisan views.

During the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, he had advocated for appropriate new capital account management measures, which were adopted by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad – who is currently among the leading critics of the TPP.

Sundaram was also vocal against the detention without trial in 1998 of then deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim – Malaysia's former opposition leader currently serving jail time in a case widely criticized as politically motivated – under the Internal Security Act.

While the TPP is expected to open up a market with a gross domestic product worth $27.5 trillion to Malaysian companies, the emergence of anti-TPP movements in the country has battered efforts to justify the agreement’s benefit to the general public.

The main areas of concern include state-owned enterprises, labor and Bumiputera rights — privileges granted to ethnic Malays considered economically weaker than the minority ethnic Chinese.

A draft of the final agreement will be presented alongside two cost-benefit analyses to Malaysia's parliament later this month.

In addition to Malaysia and the U.S., the TPP was negotiated between Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei — which represent more than 40 percent of the world's gross domestic product.

Their negotiations were completed in early October in the U.S. city of Atlanta.

Leaders of the 12 countries involved are set to sign the deal in New Zealand on Feb. 4, subject to the approval of their legislatures.

The world’s largest economy, China, has initiated a counter Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP, however, between ten Southeast Asian countries and Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

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