KUALA LUMPUR (March 1): The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is not expected to negatively affect local farmers as the government is still allowed to provide subsidies and implement temporary export bans under the free trade agreement, said Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Liew Chin Tong.
“The CPTPP agreement will not affect government assistance programmes including subsidies to farmers for export purposes. Until now, Malaysia has never implemented any export subsidy programme for farmers,” Liew told the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday (March 1).
“Existing subsidies are in the form of fuel subsidies, fertiliser and ship repair and upgrading, for small and artisanal fishermen, all of which are not classified as export subsidies under the CPTPP.
“Accordingly, the government can still continue to provide such subsidies and assistance to local farmers and fishermen,” he added.
Liew was responding to Che Alias Hamid [PAS-Kemaman], who asked the government to state its stance on the issue pertaining to CPTPP “which clearly has an impact on the country's agriculture sector”.
Liew, however, disagreed that the CPTPP would negatively affect the country’s agriculture, saying it guarantees the rights and interests of local farmers, and it is the only free trade agreement ever signed by Malaysia that acknowledges food security.
“The government has the right to implement a temporary ban on the export of food products so that the food products are sufficient for consumption by the people in this country. [This] contradicted claims that the CPTPP agreement does not allow the government to implement a ban on the export of basic food products such as chicken,” he said.
Additionally, Liew said CPTPP will not result in the abrupt elimination of import duties for agricultural goods.
“Malaysia depends on the import of agricultural goods where more than 50% of local demand such as mutton and beef are met through imported sources,” he said.
Liew said the average import duty for agricultural goods was around 13.8% for 2020, and it fell to 7.9% for 2021.
“At the same time, Malaysia has been given a longer staging period of 16 years for the purpose of reducing and eliminating import duties, including for agricultural goods.
“Furthermore, Malaysia does not need to completely eliminate import duties for chicken and eggs under the CPTPP, and can still maintain the tariff rate quota system,” he explained.
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