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
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/.

Japan's PM adds to TPP talk ahead of APEC

tokyo019 OCTOBER 2010: Asahi.com reports on Japan's continued consideration of becoming a party to the TPP. Prime Minister Naoto Kan now says he will consider participating in future negotiations, following on from indications from Trade Minister Akihiro Ohata that there would be overtures towards the existing parties.

Asahi''s editorial welcomes Kan's position, announced ahead of the APEC leaders' meeting in Yokohama next month, but is clear as to the potential obstacles. Any trade agreement involving NZ and the US is likely to require Japan to liberalise its market for agricultural products, which may damage the government's support. Additionally, the decision comes in a climate where privatisation is presently unpopular, following criticism of the decision to privatise Japan Post in 2007 and stymied attempts to reverse the process recently.

Countering this is fear that Japan is being left behind by regional rivals (China, South Korea) who have been negotiating and finalising trade agreements as Japan refuses to negotiate on traditionally protected areas. The full editorial follows below.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 October 2010 21:30
US Congressman urges democracy, human rights in TPP negotiations

cover-letter-template8 OCTOBER 2010: Democratic Congressman David Wu has written an open letter to Barack Obama, calling for all US trade agreements under negotiations, particularly the TPP, to promote and uphold human rights.

Wu's letter observes that talks such as the TPP should be used as an opportunity to advance democracy and the rule of law in other member countries, and points to the so-called 'democracy clauses' in other trade agreements around the world (including the integration agreements for the EU and MERCOSUR), that the US could follow as an example.

In the TPP context, he points in particular to the presence of Brunei, Singapore and Vietnam in talks - all three of whom have been cited in the past for arbitrary limits on freedom of speech, the press, religious freedom, and assembly.

The full text of Congressman Wu's letter can be read here.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 October 2010 02:12
Malaysia officially joins TPP talks

malaysia-flagOCTOBER 6 2010: In a letter dated October 5, 2010, USTR Ron Kirk has informed the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, that Malaysia will be included in ongoing negotiations on the TPP agreement.

Speaking ahead of the third round of TPP talks in Brunei, Kirk said that Malaysia's inclusion "will contribute meaningfully to these goals and to the development of the high standard , 21st-century trade agreement (the US) is seeking."

Kirk continues by observing that US goods and services exports to Malaysia totalled $10 billion in 2009, which the TPP will likely enhance. He also says he has Malaysia's assurances that since it embarked on a process of extensive domestic economic reform, it is now prepared to conclude a high-standard agreement, including previous contentious issues from the US and Malaysia's fruitless bilateral negotiations.

The Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry reported that the decision came unanimously among the existing parties, estimating that it would increase the total percentage of Malaysian global trade accorded preferential treatment to 71.2%. Bernama reports that Malaysia will be hoping to benefit from reduced and eliminated export duties on footwear, textile and apparel products, as well as cocoa, petroleum products, and timepieces.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 03:03
Fourth round of TPP talks confirmed for Auckland, December 6

nzprotests5 OCTOBER 2010: The fourth round of TPP talks has been confirmed to be held the week of 6 December in Auckland, New Zealand. Presently, negotiations will be held in the Central Business District's SkyCity Hotel and Casino.

TPP Digest will have further information on these talks as and when it becomes available, including responses in the New Zealand media.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 October 2010 21:26
Philippines warned on scope of TPP commitments

Philippines_flag1 OCTOBER 2010: Assistant US Trade Representative Barbara Weisel has welcomed the Philippines interest on joining the TPP, but has warned that doing so will involve 'significant legal reforms', including a strong IP rights system and the near-total opening up of the services sector.

BusinessWorld reports Weisel recognised that TPP commitments may even require the Philippines to undertake constitutional reforms (the constitution presently bars foreign ownership in a number of service sectors), and that the administration of Benigno Aquino III will have to generate 'domestic consensus' to permit such changes to get through.

The Philippine National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), which would be negotiating any service sector liberalisation, has said full participation in TPP talks will take time because of the present legislative restrictions, and that no negotiation can occur ahead of making these reforms.

Weisel noted financial, telecommunications and computer services as areas of key interest for the US in the Philippines. The original BusinessWorld article follows below.

Business Coalition urges separate TPP chapter on regulatory coherence

us_flagOCTOBER 4 2010: Inside US Trade reports that a coalition of US business groups supporting the TPP negotiations have urged the USTR to include a separate TPP chapter to deal with regulatory coherence, in light of the reported emphasis negotiators have put on the topic in talks to date.

The coalition, headed by the US Chamber of Commerce, previously submitted a paper on regulatory coherence to negotiators in May. They have now issued another document of general recommendations, including that agreeements be made on a sector-by-sector basis. Sources say this may reflect the fact talks on coherence are at an early stage.

Other recommendations are:

* that negotiators identify in separate chapters a list of both best practices and unacceptable regulatory conditions;

* that the US request that other parties in the talks deliver a list of 'regulatory coherence deliverables and achievements' to set a sense of their initial progress;

* that any regulatory coherence chapter contain provisions on meaningful stakeholder consultation.

The coalition has also released a draft document of 14 'principles' ahead of the third round of TPP talks in Brunei. Its recommendations include:

* the conclusion of talks by late 2011;

* a set date for elimination of all tariffs and non-tariff barriers;

* that the TPP build on existing IP protections in previous US FTAs.

Sources say that as of early October, the US had not yet placed any concrete requests on regulatory coherence at the feet of the other negotiating partners, but may submit a concept paper on regulatory coherence during the third round of talks in Brunei, asking that parties outline what (if any) regulatory bodies and coordinating systems they currently have or use. Another source suggested that the US will aim to base its approach on its current position at the Doha talks.

It is understood that Singapore has already submitted a paper on regulatory coherence, while New Zealand, which is chairing TPP talks on regulatory coherence, plans to submit its own concept paper on the issue when it hosts the next round of talks in December.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 October 2010 04:05
NZ makes Overseas Investment Act 'more flexible'

North.island.arp.300pix29 SEPTEMBER 2010: Reforms to New Zealand's Overseas Investment Act have been criticised as being 'vague' and 'weak' by political opponents and lobby groups for greater economic sovereignty.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English unveiled changes to the Act on Monday 27th of September, aimed at introducing 'extra flexibility' to consider contentious issues such as large-scale farm sales. Ministers of parliament will be given a right of veto over transactions where NZ's economic interests are believed to be threatened. The detail on how these applications are to be considered are to be fleshed out before the end of the year.

Newly organised group Save The Farms said there was little clarity around the rules and that the veto option was simply politically expedient, while the Green Party expressed concern that the suggested reform would become overtly politicised. Independent business commentators have also criticised the change. The new rules will not take effect until December, but will affect a large Chinese firm's bid for a major chain of New Zealand dairy farms in what was intended to be the first step in securing an NZD$11.5 billion dairy business. It is presently not clear whether or how these changes would affect NZ's continued TPP negotiations.

Last Updated on Friday, 08 October 2010 03:58
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