PUTRAJAYA, Feb 25 — The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is not a magic lamp that could determine the value of the ringgit in the international market.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the fluctuation of the local unit was influenced by several factors, including slumping crude oil prices, China’s slowing economy as well as perception of how these factors had affected the economy.
“Actually, oil only represents 8.5% of the country’s exports while the main exports, which accounted for 80%, are made up of manufactured products.
“Trade with China amounted to only 16%, not 20 or 30%, but due to perception, the value of the ringgit depended a lot on these factors.
“But in the fourth quarter of last year, fund inflows into the equity market had led to a slight increase in the value of the ringgit,” he said at a briefing for the staff of the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia here today.
On Malaysia and China trade ties, he said China would remain Malaysia’s major trading partner even after joining the TPPA.
China is also the main trading partner for more than 120 countries, he said, adding that even though China encountered a slight slowdown, it was still a huge market with a robust demand and need.
Speaking to reporters after the briefing, he said the TPPA would not break-up ASEAN countries as claimed by certain parties and, in fact, the relationship among the 10 member states would become even stronger.
On the interest shown by three more ASEAN member states to join the TPP, Mustapa said the inclusion of Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines would only happen after 2018 as it needed sufficient preparation and understanding of the negotiations process.
“Now it is at the stage of providing an explanation. Malaysia took five years. After 2018, the 12 member countries will consider the participation of new countries in the TPP,” he said.
On the terms of the TPP, he said Malaysia defended its interest, namely state’s jurisdiction over land, Bumiputera rights, culture and state-owned enterprises.
“What is important is (safeguarding) the Constitution, religion and policies related to small and medium enterprises, Islam and the Federal and state authorities.
“As we do not want the TPPA to run contrary to the Constitution, we managed to ensure that it does not touch the Constitution during the negotiations,” he said.