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Malaysia: Steps Taken Towards Ratification of Trans-Pacific Partnership

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(Sept. 29, 2016) On September 24, 2016, it was reported that the Malaysian Secretary-General for International Trade and Industry, Datuk J. Jayasuri, had stated that the country is on track to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by early 2018.  (Amir Hisyam Rasid, (Update) Malaysia Amending 18 Laws in Preparation for TPP Ratification, NEW STRAITS TIMES (Sept. 24, 2016); TPP Full Text, Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) website (last visited Sept. 29, 2016).)  He said that 18 laws had been identified as needing amendment in order to comply with the TPP provisions, and that work had started on developing the necessary legislation.  Once these amendments are passed by the Parliament, a decision will be made on ratification.  (Rasid, supra.)

In addition, on September 25, 2016, it was reported that an intellectual property (IP) lawyer in Malaysia had said that the country’s IP laws are nearly fully compliant with the TPP, with few legislative changes needed.  (Eva Yeong, Malaysia Near Full Compliance with TPPA Requirements on IP Laws, SUN DAILY (Sept. 25, 2016).)  One such change is the extension of copyright protection to 70 years plus the life of the author, which would have retrospective effect.  The current duration of copyright protection in Malaysia is 50 years plus the life of the author.  (Copyrights Act 1987 (Act 332) (as amended to July 1, 2012), s 17(1), Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia website.)

The TPP was signed by 12 countries on February 4, 2016: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam.  (Press Release, USTR, Trans-Pacific Partnership Ministers’ Statement (Feb. 4, 2016).)  The agreement will enter into force “60 days after the date on which all original signatories have notified the Depositary in writing of the completion of their applicable legal procedures.”  If not all of the signatories ratify the agreement, however, it will still enter into force if, after two years from the date of signature, “at least six of the original signatories, which together account for at least 85 per cent of the combined gross domestic product of the original signatories,” have ratified the agreement.  (TPP Chapter 30, art. 30.5, USTR website (last visited Sept. 29, 2016).)

Jayasuri said that, should the TPP not enter into force, Malaysia would seek to engage in talks with the four countries with which Malaysia does not have an existing free trade agreement.  (Tho Xin Yi, Malaysia on Track to Ratifying TPPA Before 2018 Deadline, THE STAR (Sept. 24, 2016).)

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