KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians at large are more receptive towards the country's stand in the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) if the recent public engagements with the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) are used as a measure.
The public interest groups and businesses seem more reassured that Malaysia's participation in the TPP would be on the country's terms and that it would be bound by any timeline to conclude the talks.
"The public has a better understanding about the TPP now and they understand our (government) position better as they find our 'macro' engagements over the past six weeks useful," said its minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
"Understandably, the lack of transparency in the talks in the past led to speculation on the yet-to-be-resolved issues on the table such as sovereignty, Bumiputera rights, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and drugs."
He was referring to the boisterous mood during the ministry's first public stakeholder meeting on August 1 after Malaysia hosted the 18th round of talks.
"Some critical issues on patent, government procurement and environment we find that we on the same page, and many are now reassured that their positions were not much different from that of the government."
The public stakeholder meeting, in which 500 from several non-government organisations attended, was held to brief Malaysians about the 19th round of negotiations, which took place recently in Brunei.
A TPP ministerial meeting will be held in Bali, Indonesia, on October 3 and 4 ahead of the TPP leaders' meeting at the Apec Leaders' Summit in Bali on October 7-8.
In the meantime, several inter-session meetings will be held to discuss some of the unresolved chapters in the US and Mexico later this month.
Last Friday, Miti held its first stakeholder meeting with bipartisan parliamentary caucus and several think-tanks and business associations and will hold its next meeting mostly for the academia on Friday.
Miti, as the lead negotiating ministry, will continue with its "inclusive" stand by hosting public engagements, he said.
The red lines, outlined by public interest groups concerned about Malaysia's stand, have also been useful for the negotiations.
Mustapa will brief the Cabinet on the details of the 19th round of negotiations today.
Miti will also embark on two cost-benefit analysis studies to ascertain the effect of the TPP on national interests as well as on Bumiputeras and SMEs.
Meanwhile, on the racial tones used by some quarters towards the non-Bumiputera negotiators involved in the discussions and their capacity, Mustapa said the negotiators were guided by the mandate given by the Cabinet.