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KUALA LUMPUR, OCT 17, 2015:

Malaysians are still having a hard time accepting the advent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as there are still growing concerns over the impact of such a multilateral deal.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed yesterday said this perception is due to the fact that many are not well-informed or worse, getting the wrong information or perspective about TPP.

He said among the concerns are possible price increases of generic drugs due to the demand for a 20-year patent protection period – which will delay the introduction of medicines and restricting public access.

Addressing the concern, he said the government will ensure the price and regulation of medicines in Malaysia will not be affected by TPP.

“We believe generic drug prices will not be affected as many other countries will also face the same issue,” Mustapa said at the #tanyagomen forum.

Another concern was on the increases competitiveness to be faced by local businesses – Malaysians are worried that local businesses cannot compete globally.

However, Mustapa noted a lot of local small-medium enterprises have already extended their businesses globally, invested overseas and prospered.

“Apart from that, many are also expanding their businesses in Malaysia. Our local businesses are also doing well overseas.”

In terms of the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), Mustapa also said there are added protocols which requires companies – especially foreign firms – to meet the government to negotiate terms before taking legal action against the state.

“Malaysia had been sued twice before and we will also be backed by learning from cases in Australia, Ecuador and many more. We take into consideration weaknesses from existing ISDS practices.”

Bernama reported Mustapa also said TPP is the first free trade agreement to recognise Malaysia’s Bumiputera agenda.

He said the government will continue to ensure the Bumiputera agenda and rights of state governments is not impacted if the TPP is signed.

“The Bumiputera agenda has been recognised by our friends in the TPP negotiations. Contracts reserved for Bumiputeras will continue.”

Mustapa also stressed that Bumiputeras are capable of competing at the international level. “Mention oil and gas, and Petronas comes to mind. This is a Bumiputera company. Let us not downplay our abilities.”

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