This week sat in between two public holidays. I returned from a wonderful trip in Langkawi and ended the week with a visit to the Islamic Art Museum Malaysia.
Langkawi was beautiful and I had a wonderful time island hopping, going up the cable car and watching the sunset on the beach every evening. The Islamic Art Museum Malaysia gave me an opportunity to explore centuries of Islamic calligraphy, artifacts, and architecture.
At The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) I continued my research on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). The TPPA has passed parliament but the debate is not over. In the past I have thought of trade deals as the overwhelmingly large complicated documents. The TPPA is thousands of pages but some of the most disputed parts are only a few paragraphs long. It takes only a moments search on the internet to disprove many of the charges levied against it here in Malaysia. For example, opponents have claimed that once signed, Malaysia would not be able to withdraw from the agreement. Article 30.6 clearly states that ‘any Party may withdraw from this Agreement by providing written notice of withdrawal to the Depositary.’
It has become clear to me that opponents of the TPPA are willing to exploit the public’s lack of understanding of international trade in order to stoke fears and further their own political aims. The only other nation that stands to gain more from the TPPA relative to the size of their economy is Vietnam as shown by multiple independent reviews including one by PWC. Opponents will quote whole values and say that the U.S. will gain more in dollar terms ignoring the fact that the U.S. economy is some fifty times larger than the Malaysian economy.
When I arrived here in Kuala Lumpur ten weeks ago I knew little about the Malaysian economy and political environment but I am now enjoying being a part of the debate. I have two weeks left I so I am looking forward to seeing events play out and to finishing up my time here at the Asia Liberty Forum.