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SOVEREIGNTY ISSUE ON TPPA IS RED HERRING, SAYS EXPERT 

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SINGAPORE, July 17 (Bernama) — The sovereignty issue that has erupted following the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a “red herring”, says Bruce Stokes, Director, Global Economic Attitudes, Pew Research Center.

He said nations gave up their sovereignty, the minute they decided to be part of the global economy.

“At least through the TPPA, there will be rules that all have to abide by, rather than a system without rules, that allows the most powerful to implicitly set it.

“The reason this is such a volatile issue is that, it makes explicit what has previously been implicit, with small nations having less influence setting the rules.

“But the TPPA at least allows them to have a say,” he told Bernama when contacted via email.

Bruce was asked to comment on the many criticisms and concerns over the TPPA of late, including some quarters saying that Malaysia would lose its sovereignty, should the government insist on bulldozing through the TPPA.

It was also reported that signing the new trade deal with the 11 other Pacific Rim countries would lead to the loss of billions in taxpayers’ money, and leave Malaysia bound “hand and foot” to the whims of the United States.

The TPP negotiators from 12 countries have converged on Kota Kinabalu for the 18th round, which began on Monday and ends on July 25, with an eye on concluding negotiations by year-end.

Japan makes its debut as the 12th TPPA member in Sabah, alongside Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

More than 180 stakeholders, including 51 from Malaysia representing different interest groups have registered for this session.

The TPP, a free trade initiative, aims to further liberalise the economies of the Asia-Pacific region.

It is highly ambitious in seeking to enhance trade and investment among the TPP partner countries, promote innovation, economic growth and development, and support the creation and retention of jobs.

Touching on the rational of having the TPPA, Bruce said: “The Doha Round is dead, China is extending its economic influence in the region by signing low ambition trade deals that do little to open markets, and the US wants an economic initiative as part of its pivot to Asia.

“If the TPPA can succeed, it will set some high standards around issues such as the behaviour of state-owned and state-affiliated enterprises that are in line with Western idea of the role of the state in the economy.”

With the TPPA, Bruce noted that the benefit is a more predictable market, especially for rules on how regulations are set under it, as they will have be more transparent, with due process and the rule of law.

He said this will hopefully encourage more investment, both domestic and foreign.

Touching on the success story of economic integration, Bruce said the European Union was certainly a good example and its recent problems reflect a failure to conclude it.

He noted that the US free trade agreement with Canada and the one with Australia, had benefited both countries enormously.

The US-based Pew Research Center, is a non-partisan source of data and analysis. It does not take advocacy positions.

Its Global Attitudes Project conducts public opinion surveys around the world on a broad array of subjects, ranging from people’s assessments of their own lives, to their views about the current state of the world and important issues of the day.

Source: BERNAMA

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