By Anthony Fensom
August 02, 2015
The world economy could be $300 billion poorer after the failure of the latest Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks in Hawaii. With time running out to salvage a deal, the U.S.-led trade pact risks becoming stalled indefinitely, handing the initiative to China’s rival grouping and reducing the prospect of much-needed productivity gains.
Hopes of a breakthrough were high when negotiators from the 12 TPP nations met Tuesday in the tropical U.S. island state to seek agreement after five years of talks.
Comprising Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam, the grouping encompasses 40 percent of world gross domestic product (GDP) and a quarter of global exports, with a successful TPP potentially representing the world’s biggest trade accord in more than a decade.
Yet after much fanfare and encouraging initial reports, on Friday the TPP’s trade ministers ended their negotiations, releasing a joint statement that only committed to further talks…
Trans-Pacific Partnership delegates fail to reach final deal
1 Aug 2015
Delegates negotiating a Pacific free trade agreement have failed to reach a final deal after several days of intense talks in Hawaii.
The talks were halted after a dispute flared between Japan and North America over autos, New Zealand dug in over dairy trade and no agreement was reached on monopoly periods for next-generation drugs.
Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb had earlier said the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) was 98 per cent complete.
Mr Robb is in Maui with trade ministers from the 12 nations negotiating the TPP, which would stretch from Japan to Chile and cover 40 per cent of the world economy.
The minister said the problem lay with the „big four“ economies of the United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico.
„We have made progress on sugar and dairy but we haven’t concluded,“ he said.
„You have to make concessions over an agreement but in many cases when you reach an agreement, it’s to both parties‘ benefit.“
Mr Robb said getting more access to the US sugar and dairy markets remained a priority for Australia.
National Farmers Federation president Brent Finlay said it was not surprising agricultural issues were some of the hardest to resolve in TPP talks, but Australian farmers should continue to push for free trade.
„Farmers in each country want to protect their own farmers‘ interest and with the TPP that’s no different, again, all countries you hope put their best on the table and you have to work through it to try to reach an agreement,“ he said.
„The more free trade, the more trade around the world, certainly assists Australian farmers.“
United States trade representative ambassador Michael Froman said that, despite a final deal, the delegates had „more than a week of productive meetings“.
„We have made significant progress and will continue to work on resolving a limited number of remaining issues, paving the way for the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations,“ Mr Froman told reporters.
„We are more confident than ever that TPP is within reach and will support jobs and economic growth.“
The result frustrated negotiators who had toiled through the night to cross off outstanding issues and made significant progress on many controversial issues.
Elusive deal on pharmaceuticals a key sticking point
Despite the progress made, issues pegged as sticking points going into the talks were still blocking a deal after four days of discussions.
Ministers had also yet to agree on how long to protect data used to develop biologic drugs, which a source from a non-US negotiating nation described as the biggest source of frustration.
US drug manufacturers want 12 years, but Australia wants five.
The controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership deal covers 40 per cent of the global economy and involves 12 countries around the Pacific rim, including Australia and the United States.
People briefed on the talks had seen seven or eight years as a possible compromise.
„The US was on one side of the issue, while practically every other country were on the other side,“ the source said.
„Neither side was prepared to move and all claimed it as a red-line issue.“
New Zealand has said it will not back a deal that does not significantly open dairy markets, with an eye to the US, Japan and Canada, as well as Mexico.
John Wilson, chairman of the world’s largest dairy exporter New Zealand dairy cooperative Fonterra, arrived to attend the talks late on Thursday to press home the case.
New Zealand’s veteran trade minister, Tim Groser, said the talks had „cleared the undergrowth away“.
„We need to start with a huge number of uncertainties and slowly resolve them piece by piece — until you can see one or two of the most difficult issues remaining,“ Mr Groser said.
He said while that had not been achieved during the meeting, he was „extremely confident we will find that sweet spot and advance the interests of efficient dairy exporters around the world, not just mine“.
Japan and the United States had been trying to agree on the rules of origin for cars, which determine when a product is designated as coming from within the free trade zone and therefore not subject to duties.
The United States and Japan had largely agreed on the rules, but had to get buy-in from Canada and Mexico, which are closely tied in to the US auto industry.
Japanese automakers source many car parts from Thailand, which is not a member of the TPP, and strict rules would upset existing supply chains. Japan also wants the United States to quickly drop duties on Japanese auto parts going to the United States.