Malaysia to Sign TPP in February – Report

Malaysia, one of the signatories of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is expected to sign off on the deeply controversial agreement. That’s according to a report citing the countries Trade Minister.

The report comes from Channel News Asia which says that Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed has said that the country is expected to sign off on the agreement. The report highlights an all too common picture for the state of the TPP in many countries around the world:

Speaking to the media, Mr Mustapa expressed his hope for the parliamentary approval.

“All indication is it’s going to happen in February. There are a few places in the running but that’s not a big issue. The issue now is to engage with the people, get more buy-in that’s still challenging,” he said.

However, many Malaysians, along with NGOs and rights groups, have protested against the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPPA), which they believe will drive up the cost of medicine and undermine the country’s sovereignty, among others.

But Mr Mustapa insisted the benefits of signing the trade pact outweigh the costs.

The TPP would affect a lot of policies from many countries around the world. As we highlighted earlier, the agreement would bring in a whole surveillance regime for ISPs, destroy privacy for domain name registrants, institute anti-circumvention laws that would override activities that would otherwise be legal, institute statutory damages on cases of non-commercial infringement, compel border guards to search digital storage devices for copyright infringement, and bring in a global DMCA that has a long track record of failure in the US. That, of course, is also a very small sample of the notorious provisions in the agreement.

What’s significant about this development is the fact that countries are starting to go ahead with signing off on the agreement even though passage seems to be questionable in the US. The hope for TPP critics is that the delays and controversy in the US would give other countries pause instead of blindly agreeing to everything. If the US can’t pass the TPP, maybe the agreement would be averted and delayed indefinitely. That hope may be curtailed because if other countries act unilaterally to sign and even pass the TPP, the push to stop the TPP in the US may have a much more limited influence in a global scale than previously expected.

The threat of world leaders signing off on the agreement regardless of the US’ position isn’t exclusive to Malaysia. It was already revealed multiple times that Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, intends to sign off on the agreement as well.

The risk of other countries signing off on the agreement is that proponents of the TPP would put pressure on the remaining holdouts to follow suit. Because Malaysia and Canada decided to jump off a cliff, then maybe other countries should follow suit as well whether or not it was actually a good idea in the first place.

While Malaysia hasn’t actually signed off on the agreement yet, the deadline of February would mean that things could get interesting by the end of next month. How will other countries react to this if Malaysia does, in fact, sign the agreement? Will there be a flood of signatures by the end of February? Perhaps the only silver lining for those who are fighting this is that there is still one last step after signing: ratification. That would be the last stand for critics to fight this before it becomes law.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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