The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has suffered a major blow. Negotiations with Australia and other nations have broken down at the latest talks about the agreement.
The latest TPP talks, held in Hawaii at the end of July, were held back by a lack of consensus among the Pacific nations. New Zealand and Canada clashed over the dairy industry, while Australia and the United States disagreed over drug monopolies.
In the light of the recent issues, Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb was still confident that an agreement could be reached. “Australia has made some excellent progress, but unfortunately some difficult issues were not resolved,” Robb said last Saturday in a statement to the Australian Associated Press.
Blame has been laid on many different nations for the breakdown of the agreements, with Robb believing that “the big four economies” of the US, Canada, Japan and Mexico were responsible.
Robb said: “The sad thing is, 98% is concluded … While we didn’t quite get there, we are definitely on the cusp.”
The main concerns among parties were cars, data protection, dairy and sugar.
However, Robb believes these concerns can be resolved, saying that “from my reading, the issues are not intractable and there remains a real determination to conclude the TPP among all parties.”
In a recently released statement, Canadian Dairy Farmers president, Wally Smith, blamed New Zealand for delaying the latest set of talks by “not accepting what is on the table”, saying “New Zealand is very obstinate”.
New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser said at a press conference that “we will not be pushed out of the agreement” and that other nations are trying to make “very large compromises”.
Groser said he was disappointed with the outcome of the talks. Although “good progress” was made this week, “a number of challenging issues remain, including intellectual property and market access for dairy products”.
Groser said that the government is working in the interests of New Zealanders and that it “will continue to work towards a successful conclusion. This is about getting the best possible deal for New Zealand, not a deal at any cost.”
Michael Froman, trade representative for the US, was also confident that the deal would go on regardless of recent setbacks.
“We have made significant progress during the meetings,” Froman said.
Current TPP talks are aimed at erasing tariffs and other barriers to trade and investment, as well as standardising trade rules.