HONOLULU – Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said Saturday that Japan’s participation in talks for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement should not slow down the overall negotiations but rather help open up the region’s markets.
Najib told journalists after a meeting earlier Saturday of leaders from the nine countries currently involved in TPP negotiations that Japan’s decision to take part in the talks will have a positive impact, but it should not slow down the conclusion of the negotiations.
Najib said the leaders of the nine countries including Malaysia have agreed at their summit to work to conclude the TPP talks by July next year.
“We also achieved broad agreement that July should be the deadline. It is a very ambitious deadline because of the enormous amount of work that needs to be done, but we will push as hard as we can,” he said.
He said, “There is a need to be flexible in our approach and to be realistic in terms of what can be achieved and what can be accepted” for the TPP.
“Every country has its own domestic requirements. The United States has its own domestic requirements as well. So the TPP must take into account the realities that exist in each country,” he said.
A statement issued by the nine countries failed to mention a specific deadline for concluding the final deal on the TPP. It said the nine leaders instructed their negotiating teams to meet in early December to continue talks and furthermore to schedule additional negotiating rounds for 2012.
On concerns voiced by some countries that Japan’s participation in the talks could delay the conclusion of the TPP negotiations, Najib said, “We can still close with the nine countries and Japan can come on board later.”
The prime minister said a basic framework for the TPP has already been agreed on by the nine countries at the latest meeting. “There is now a proper text on all the 20 items, but there are still many brackets that need to be dealt with.”
Malaysia will host a meeting for TPP negotiators in Kuala Lumpur in December, he said.