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The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) will help the government achieve its target of protecting the automotive and local industries, Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed has said, according to a Bernama report.

However, this will depend on competitive pricing and the quality of local cars, he said. “Whatever we do, we must be competitive and this will depend on quality and price. If the quality of the vehicle is good and the price is reasonable we can sell the car.

“We cannot force the consumers to buy local cars. We have to convince them of the quality of the car,” Mustapa said in response to Senator Zaitun Mat Amin’s supplementary question at the Dewan Negara recently.

Zaitun wanted to know the measures taken by the government to develop the local car industry in line with the National Automotive Policy (NAP 2014) – especially Proton and Perodua, which will not be affected by TPPA.

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“Currently, I am not very happy because exports of Malaysian products, especially in the automotive sector, were still low. Last year, we exported only about RM900 million compared with import of RM12 billion,” Mustapa said, adding that in the car parts sector, only RM4 billion was exported while RM8 billion was imported.

“These statistics show that the nation’s car sector faces a big challenge to compete, which would only be achieved by being competitive via quality and price,” Bernama quoted him as saying.

The TPPA is a multi-lateral free trade agreement currently being negotiated by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US, Vietnam and Japan.