Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tok Pa becomes the ultimate salesman in Parliament

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed became the ultimate salesman for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) when he tabled the motion at a special Parliament sitting on Tuesday.

Mustapa, fondly known as Tok Pa, physically showed the lawmakers some of the items which would benefit either from the lower, or zero taxes once the trade agreement comes into force.

He took the Dewan Rakyat by surprise as he held up spring coil, cable, long pants and gloves.

"This pair of pants currently has 20% tax imposed on it. Once the TPPA comes into force, there will not be any taxes imposed," said Mustapa.

He said three main industries, namely electrical and electronic, textile and automotive, will benefit from the TPPA.

He said the reason why Malaysia decided to join the TPPA was because the nation did not have any Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with the United States, Canada, Mexico and Peru.

Mustapa added the US is one of the biggest economy powerhouses and the TPPA would give an opportunity to local companies to penetrate its market.

"The import duty for electrical and electronic items from Malaysia to penetrate the US market is 5% on average.

"With the TPPA, the duty for 99.8% of electrical and electronic products will be lifted.

"This will benefit the local companies to increase investment. Through this investment, we expect job opportunities and export to also increase," he added.

For the textile industry, Mustapa said the import tax on products would reduce by 70% in the first year.

He added that local textile and garment companies predict that the TPPA will help increase export by 30%.

The Government also felt that Malaysia, despite not being a main player in the automotive industry, has potential under the TPPA.

"By abolishing the duty and rules of origin which require automotive makers to receive input from TPP countries, these (automotive) components can be exported to countries such as Canada, US, and Mexico, as well as increase job opportunities," he added.

Mustapa also dismissed allegations by some critics on the TPPA including those who said that some states will not be able to declare Friday as a weekly off day.

"There are some who say that the TPPA will force shops to be open from noon to 3pm on Fridays and businesses may be fined if they are closed during these times.

"Clearly these are allegations from individuals who do not understand TPPA at all," said Mustapa.

He explained that the TPPA involves 12 countries including Islamic countries such as Brunei.

Malaysia, said Mustapa, has also been given the green light to continue using the halal certification system that is acknowledged by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

Mustapa also took to task a writer from a local university who published a book on the TPPA using the picture of a pig on the front cover.

This, he said, was an irresponsible act by a learned person.

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