Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal Is Reached

Source: The New York Times

ATLANTA — The United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations on Monday reached final agreement on the largest regional trade accord in history, teeing up what could be the toughest fight President Obama will face in his final year in office: securing approval from Congress.

The conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, after years of negotiations and a series of sleepless nights here, was merely “an important first step,” conceded Michael B. Froman, the United States trade representative, as he and other weary officials announced their accord.

Now the deal faces months of scrutiny in Congress, where some bipartisan opposition was immediate. That debate will unfurl against the backdrop of a presidential campaign in which populist anti-trade talk against the deal already is prominent.

Still, for Mr. Obama the accord could be a legacy-making achievement, drawing together countries representing two-fifths of the global economy, from Canada and Chile to Japan and Australia, into a web of common rules governing trans-Pacific commerce. It is the capstone both of his economic agenda to expand exports and of his foreign policy “rebalance” toward closer relations with fast-growing eastern Asia, after years of American preoccupation with the Middle East and North Africa. Read more

Sarawak tribes tell human rights commission ‘no’ to Baram dam

Source: The Malaysian Insider

The tribespeople at Baram with activists near the site of the blockade. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, September 22, 2015.

The tribespeople at Baram with activists near the site of the blockade. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, September 22, 2015.

Tribes in the Sarawak interior are “unanimously against” the proposed Baram hydroelectric dam that would displace thousands of them if it is built, a fact finding mission by the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) earlier this month has found.

The people also expressed their hopes to the six-member Suhakam team that the state government would totally abandon the plan to construct the RM4 billion dam that would submerge 400 square kilometres of their rainforest.

They conveyed this to the team led by Nurul Hassanah Ahmad Hassain Malim, who is Suhakam’s deputy secretary for policy, law and complaints, at a gathering in the Kenyah settlement of Long San on September 4 and 5. Read more

Terengganu’s fishermen caught between dwindling catch and corruption

Source: The Malaysian Insider

The fishermen on a boat returning to shore with their catch, near Marang in Terengganu. Their livelihoods have been impacted in a negative way by various factors in recent years. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, August 23, 2015.

Already struggling to make ends meet, the lives of Terengganu’s weather-beaten small-time fishermen are being made harder by competition from huge trawlers encroaching their waters, and corruption in local cartels that leaves them at the mercy of foreign fishing boats.

The Malaysian Insider’s recent visit to the fishing community at the seaside village of Marang found fishermen already struggling with the fact that they will have no familial successors, for the young find the job hard and the money too little.

A fibreglass boat now costs RM1,500, but the returns are little these days.

There is also competition from those who are more well-off in the trade and who own trawlers which catch almost every living being in the waters – squid, fish, prawns and crabs.

The small fisherman cannot compete. All he has is the camaraderie of his fellow fishermen on board and a net that has battled the elements, and can only haul in a much smaller yield. Read more