The interest shown by several countries in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) will only be deliberated in 2018, the earliest date the trade pact is expected to come into force.
International Trade and Industry Ministry deputy secretary-general (strategy and monitoring) J Jayasiri said the process of their inclusion in the accession negotiations would only be decided after the TPPA comes into force.
"The agreement could come into force by 2018 or after a minimum of six of the signatories, which made up 85 percent of the combined gross domestic product (2013), had ratified and notified New Zealand, the legal depository and administrator of the TPPA," he said.
Jayasiri, who is also Malaysia's chief negotiator for the TPPA, was met at a talk show hosted by Bernama TV.
Asean member states, namely Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, as well as South Korea and Taiwan, have indicated their interest to join the TPPA.
The pact, which was signed in Auckland on Feb 4, is in ratification phase with the 12-member states undergoing respective domestic process in order to bring it into force.
The trade deal, which will expand markets, reduce tariffs and promote freer trade, was signed by New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Mexico, Japan, Peru, Canada, Vietnam, United States, Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia.