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This website was part of a research project supported by a grant from the
School of Law at the University of Auckland to identify and critically
evaluate the potential implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Agreement.
It is no longer being maintained. For updates on the TPPA from a New Zealand civil society
perspective, please head to http://www.itsourfuture.org.nz/.

No Ordinary Deal - Published And Available This Month

97818772425025 NOVEMBER 2010: Just an update to draw readers' attention to a new addition to the left-hand menu , and a new book which represents the most developed collection of academic writing and analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership to date. No Ordinary Deal, edited by Professor Jane Kelsey, is released in Australasia next week.

The product of 19 academics and writers, No Ordinary Deal features contributions from Bryan Gould, Patricia Ranald, Lori Wallach, Todd Tucker, Paul Buchanan, Thomas Faunce, Bill Rosenberg, and many others. From a legal, economic, and political theory perspective, the book takes a look at the areas of trade, sovereignty, and society that the TPP's reforms are likely to affect.

The No Ordinary Deal page will shortly be updated with press and reviews of the book. For now, there is an online bibliography, a series of press and info releases about the publication, and order forms for NZ and Rest of World purchasers.

 
China expresses interest in TPP?

China-flag_030 OCTOBER 2010: Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun paper reports that China may be looking to join TPP negotiations. Japan's Foreign Ministry sources indicated that China was looking to a series of working-level talks between all parties on November 9.

The working-level talks will be held between the nine current members and four - Japan, Canada, the Philippines, and China - who have expressed in joining the negotiations.

While China's coolness on certain trade liberalisation matters in the past has produced scepticism about how serious it would really be about talks, the article reports unease about their potential role leaving Japan on the periphery in ongoing FTA talks and negotiations.

Despite Japanese Naoto Kan indicating readiness to enter TPP talks in his policy speech on October 1, a political and social reluctance to expose the domestic agricultural sector to outside competition would be a major obstacle to any negotiations by Japan in a TPP setting. Commentators observe that as a single-party state, China would be in a better position to make what are electorally unpalatable concessions for Japan.

The full article follows below.

Read more...
 
Inside US Trade: Canada still in no position to join TPP talks

canada25 OCTOBER 2010: Inside US Trade reports that Canada has been told by the US and other TPP parties that it is still not ready to enter negotiations.

It is understood the message was conveyed to Canada at a sideline meeting to the Brunei round at the start of October - the rationale being that a 'range of issues' existing partners had asked Canada to address have yet to be satisfactorially resolved. Chief among these are Canada's retention of a supply management system for its dairy and poultry sectors, which has led New Zealand to criticise its bid, and a perception by the US that Canada better needs to address intellectual property rights.

Canada has not stated which specific concessions it would make in its dairy sector or elsewhere, were it to gain membership.

In Brunei, Vietnam was also urged to decide ahead of the fourth round of talks in New Zealand whether or not to join as a full negotiating partner - to date, its status has been that of an 'associate member', which has saved it some of the responsibilities and commitments of full negotiating partners. Officials have not been specific as to what would occur if Vietnam could not give an undertaking as to full membership before the December round.

The US source IUT spoke to was also non-specific as to any role for Japan in the near future in TPP talks . They were clear that no informal discussion between Japan and the US has occurred to date, and indeed suggested that Japan may be perceived much as Canada - a potential party with too many domestic hurdles at present to be seen as a viable partner by members with strong agricultural sectors. It was also suggested that as the talks become more robust, US negotiators are keen to set a cap on the current nine negotiating members, requiring other states to accede in the future.

 

Last Updated on Sunday, 07 November 2010 23:05
 
Kan's TPP overtures may agitate farmers: report

tokyo0118 OCTOBER 2010: The Asahi Shimbun reports that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan's aggressive push for his country to investigate joining the TPP at some point in the near future has placed his administration on a 'collision course' with farmers.

Kan's Democratic Party of Japan have announced the initiative as falling rice prices have affected farmers' livelihoods, with the possibility of trade liberalisation doing away with their traditional protections alarming them further. The government has pushed for a more assertive courting of free trade deals, warning that Japan risks being left behind as an economic force if it does not form more comprehensive economic partnerships.

But even within the DPJ, sentiment has been divided, with at least one Upper House member warning the TPP would destroy both the rural economy and community. Compounding this is a perception that the government's existing programme to compensate Japanese farmers for reduced market prices is ineffective, and that it could not cover the further burden of the abolition of tariffs on agricultural imports.

The full Asahi story follows below.

Read more...
 
Civil Society groups worried by US Regulatory Coherence push

ustr5713 OCTOBER 2010: Inside US Trade reports that USTR, following the recommendations of a business coalition draft document, may be putting forward the US's own central co-ordinating body on regulation forward as a model to other TPP partners.

Currently, the US Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) takes a primary role in the US rule-making process - a federal agency wanting an issue a rule or regulation must comply with its requirements, including that a cost-benefit analysis of the rule is undertaken, and that the value in not regulating is also considered.

The US business coalition say the adoption of an OIRA-style body by other TPP partners would help regulate the decisions and reforms made across their government agencies and departments, ensuring they abided by the requirements of a TPP treaty.

However, civil society groups are wary of the effects of establishing such bodies. Sean Flynn of American University's Washington College of Law has warned that the US's current regulation oversight model was 'decades' in the making, and that the effect of imposing such an advanced model on developing countries in the talks, such as Vietnam, would be potentially destabilising.

A further concern is that there are currently no undertakings on whether the cost-benefit analyses envisaged would extend beyond trade costs (ie: to health, safety, labour and environmental concerns). Additionally, some groups have warned that strict regulatory coherence provisions would limit the ability of TPP members to regulate in the national interest - noting that Australia and New Zealand, both parties to TPP, have taken an aggressive stance on regulatory coherence in the multilateral Doha talks. As noted last week, New Zealand will be preparing a document on regulation for the fourth round of talks in Auckland, in December.

In comparison, the US approach to regulatory coherence at Doha has been less strict - it has opposed the 'necessity test' (requiring that regulations passed be 'no more burdensome than necessary') proposal that the two Australasian partners have previously supported.

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 October 2010 01:12
 
WSJ, Bloomberg on significance of growing TPP

malaysia-flag12 OCTOBER 2010: Both the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg have reported on Malaysia's inclusion in the third round of talks, bringing the ranks of partners to nine.

The WSJ notes both the likely long duration of talks, as well as the uncertainty as to whether a final agreement would even be assured passage in congress without any form of fast-track authority for members. On the other commentators note the strategic value of the US's increasing engagement in the area (particularly as against China), and that Malaysia's inclusion as the US's 16th-largest trading partner gives the TPP some much needed momentum.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Australian trade academic John Ravenhill was more pessimistic about the relative insignificance of many of the partners so far, but noted that the inclusion of Japan and South Korea could make it the broadest-ranging US FTA since NAFTA. For Malaysia's part, it notes that the announcement and deal may attract foreign investment to the South-East Asian nation again, after it had been flagging in recent years.

Both articles follow below.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 October 2010 02:51
Read more...
 
Third round of TPP talks wrap up in Brunei

brunei11 OCTOBER 2010: The third round of TPP agreement negotiations have ended in Brunei Darrulsalam. The talks ran from the 4th until the 9th, with parties giving a particular focus to the preparation of a consolidated text, as well as proposals for co-operation. Over 300 negotiators from TPP member countries participated, with 24 separate negotiating groups splitting aside across the week to discuss industrial goods, agriculture, textiles, standards, services, investment protections, IP, government procurement, competition, labour, and environmental standards.

During the talks Malaysia was made a member of the negotiations by the consensus of the eight existing members. Chief negotiators issued a joint statement to the press, saying they were 'pleased with the progress this week'. US Trade Representative Ron Kirk has notified Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, as well as Senate President Daniel K. Inouye, of Malaysia's inclusion. He hailed the state's plans for extensive economic reform, following issues which stymied the original plans for a US-Malaysia FTA a few years ago.

 

Last Updated on Monday, 11 October 2010 21:25
 
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