Memorandum to the EU Delegation to Malaysia on Global Day of Action against FTAs April 11, 2013
Online Publication Date: 18 April 2013
MEMORANDUM TO THE EU DELEGATION TO MALAYSIA
On Global Day of Action against FTAs
APRIL 11, 2013
‘NO' TO THE EU-MALAYSIA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT
It was with great disappointment
that Malaysian civil society learned the Cabinet’s agreement on 27 February,
2010, for Malaysia to pursue an FTA with the EU. Since the first round of
negotiations between Malaysia and the EU took place on 6 December 2010 in
Brussels, Belgium, there have been six additional rounds. Working groups from
both quarters are discussing as many as 13 issues that official quarters have
said will be concluded by the end of 2013. These include Market Access for
Goods, Services and Investment, Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) Measures and
Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Competition Policy, Intellectual Property
Rights (IPR) and Geographical Indications (GI), Government Procurement (GP),
Sustainable Development Issues (Labour and Environment), Dispute Settlement
Mechanism and Transparency/Institutional Issues.
Civil society concern stem from a
number of issues that have cropped up over the contentious proposals that have
arisen in the course of the talks:
- Malaysia has a 71% rice self-sufficiency
goal, but the EU is said to be adamant it will not discuss its subsidies to its
agricultural sector in any FTA, although it does insist on cutting Malaysia’s
agricultural tariffs in the goods chapter of these FTAs. This will expose
Malaysia’s rice, chicken and many other farmers to subsidised imports from the
EU being sold at prices below Malaysia’s cost of production. Just as Ghana’s
chicken farmers went from enjoying 95% share of the domestic market to a mere
11% when they cut their chicken tariffs and were subsequently flooded with
subsidised EU chicken and dumped chicken parts, we are concerned that a similar
agreement to reduce tariffs in Malaysia would leave it more dependent on
imported food and vulnerable to food shortages when such food imports dry up in
times of shortage. Even before this last food crisis, Malaysia’s food import
bill already put a strain on its foreign exchange reserves and led to imported
inflation. It will be bad for both farmers and agro-industries in Malaysia.
- Other likely FTA provisions are
also likely to make it harder for Malaysian farmers to compete, for example by
making inputs such as seeds more expensive due to stronger intellectual
property protection (including via treaties such as International Convention
for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants 1991) and preventing Malaysian
farmers (via the EU FTA’s likely competition chapter) from doing activities
such as cooperatives or joint marketing campaigns to try and fight the
subsidised food imports.
- A large percentage of the
medicines that Malaysians consume are generic medicines, which are generally
much cheaper and thus more affordable than ‘original’, patented medicines. In
Malaysia, patented medicines can be 1,044% more expensive than their generic equivalents.
We believe that EU proposals such as border measures, facilitating the
obtaining of court orders of injunction against suspected infringers and
inclusion of investment provisions will affect access to such affordable,
life-saving medicines for Malaysian as parts of efforts elsewhere to seek
broader and longer patent protection and monopoly and thereby making it harder
for generic companies to produce affordable generic medicines. This would lead
to delays and restrict the access of Malaysians to affordable generic
medicines. Such TRIPS-plus obligations would go against the EU’s own commitment
to the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, which puts
public health before IP rights and encourages WTO members to fully use TRIPS safeguard
provisions to protect public health and enhance access to medicines for
- If government procurement is also
opened up to EU firms, as reports claim the latter is seeking, this will
significantly affect the viability of many Malaysian industries, including
small and medium enterprises that depend on Malaysian firms supply goods and
services to the government. Many SMEs will, in fact, find it extremely hard to
survive as they strive to compete with EU firms for contracts in public sector
- Another point of consternation
that civil society has had with the EU-Malaysia FTA is the utter secrecy, and
the utter lack of transparency, with which the negotiations have been carried
out. Nobody – outside the small circle of trade negotiators in the working
groups and their immediate superiors and political masters – knows exactly what
Malaysia and the EU are signing on to. Free and public debate and transparency
– which the EU touts to be matters of principle – are definitely not the
flagship principles by which the EU-Malaysia FTA is being negotiated.
The EU has always held itself out
as a promoter of human rights and an advocate of developmental goals of poverty
reduction and sustainable development. Yet, its trade negotiations with
developing countries belie these claims. The United Nations, the World Health
Organisation, the Global Fund on AIDS, TB and Malaria and UNITAID have all
warned against developing countries, such as Malaysia, being forced to adopt
exactly the sort of demands that the European Commission is making in this FTA.
We reject all TRIPS-plus
intellectual property (IP) provisions that negatively affect access to
affordable essential medicines.
We reject all proposals in
general that negatively affect access to environmental and climate-friendly
technological solutions, threaten food security as well as the access to and
sustainable use of our rich biological biodiversity and access to knowledge.We demand an end to the secrecy that has
shielded the EU-Malaysia FTA negotiations from the scrutiny of national
lawmakers and the public.
1) Anti FTA Coalition (Gabungan Rakyat Membantah FTA)
2) Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group
3) Monitoring Sustainability of Globalization.
5) Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture.
6)Worker Hubs Fo
Harapan Negeri Kedah/Perlis.
Kebajikan untuk Bekas Penguna Dadah Malaysia (PEKAS)
Kebajikan Komuniti Ikhlas Malaysia.
AdvokasiMasyarakat Terpinggir Kuala
13)National Union of
Movement of Malaysia. (ABIM)
Ekonomi Melayu (MTEM)
Perkembangan Kesihatan Keluarga Pulau Pinang (FHDA).