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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28, 2016:

The government is committed in enhancing the participation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to help them expand their businesses globally, particularly through the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the government would engage with SMEs to ensure that they could take advantage from the TPPA.

“The government is aware that a lot more programmes can be introduced for SMEs, particularly that of Bumiputeras, so that they could join the global network by taking advantage of FTAs (free-trade agreements) like the TPP,” he said when tabling a motion on Malaysia’s involvement in the TPPA at a special session of the Dewan Negara here today.

At present, the SMEs’ contribution to the country’s export is 18%, he said, adding that the government preferential policies on Bumiputera companies and government procurement would be maintained under the TPPA.

On public anxiety over the TPPA, he said the Bumiputera affirmation policies under the Government Procurement Chapter, State-Owned Companies Chapter, Investment Chapter and Services Chapter would be continued.

He said the flexibility granted to Malaysia included the duration and higher threshold in implementing the obligations, especially under the Procurement Chapter and State-Owned Companies Chapter (SOEs) and Designated Monopolies.

“This include allocating 30% (of government procurement) to Bumiputera contractors in the construction sector and an initial threshold of SDR63 million or RM315 million.

“Giving priority to Bumiputeras, including SMEs, as well as entities from Sabah and Sarawak up to 40% per cent of the annual allocation of the purchase of SOEs.

“In addition, Bumiputera suppliers and manufacturers will continue to enjoy preferential prices for goods and services in government procurement,” he said.

Besides Malaysia, other TPPA negotiating countries are Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the US, Chile, Mexico, Peru and Canada.

Mustapa said five other countries had expressed their wish to join the TPP and Malaysia would be lagging behind if it chose to stay away from the trade pact.

He said the TPPA was not just a trade agreement, but also a transformation agenda towards transparent governance that would enhance the welfare of workers, management and preservation of the environment, standards compliance and create an effective and transparent administration in promoting trade and investment.

“If Malaysia were to delay its participation in the TPP, then all the exceptions and flexibility would have to be renegotiated, and there’s no guarantee that we’ll get similar privileges as we have managed to negotiate now.

“Malaysia’s participation in the TPP will also show to the world that Malaysia is an open country that is willing to adhere to high international standards in terms of environmental conservation, the welfare of workers and transparency towards excellent governance,” he said.

The TPPA has some new elements such as the environment chapter, government procurement, labour, competition, state-owned enterprises, intellectual property protection and more comprehensive investments.

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