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 new Trade Minister considering TPP

ohata27 SEPTEMBER 2010: Japan's new Trade Minister, Akihiro Ohata, has announced that he is looking at making overtures toward the TPP. Japan has previously been vague as to whether it would join the framework.

However, Ohata admitted to a news conference that it would 'difficult' for Japan to participate unless it overcame 'its agricultural issues'.

Ohata's remarks come ahead of an annual meeting of APEC leaders in Japan in November, at which the TPP is likely to be discussed by both current and prospective parties.

Japan's reluctance to open up its agricultural market has made it previously reluctant to enter either P4 or TPP talks, but on this occasion Agriculture, Forestries and Farming Minister Michihiko Kano has also backed Ohata's announcement. He has suggested environmental tax revenue may be used to support farmers disadvantaged by the lowering of agricultural tariffs.

However, Kyodo News International reports a Foreign Ministry official as saying that Japan will first have to carry out studies over the next two months to determine whether it shall join talks for 2011, but also reported a Japanese trade academic as expressing scepticism that Japan would make any decision before the APEC meeting.

Kyodo News's full article follows below.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 October 2010 07:32
Philippines officially bidding to join TPP, seeks US support

43256479-benigno-aquino1-300x24327 SEPTEMBER 2010: Philippines President Benigno S. Aquino III has confirmed that his country is going to seek the support of the United States in a bid to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Speaking to the Council of Foreign Relations in NYC last week, President Aquino said that the Philippines is now 'positioning' itself to be a good prospect for the pact - this follows the US's recommendation that the Asian nation 'benchmark' itself against the likely standards of the final TPP agreement.

The confirming statement, which appears in full below, from Aquino's office, also indicates that the TPP is aiming to eliminate 90 percent of all tariffs among member countries, and reduce all trade tariffs to zero by 2015.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 October 2010 07:35
Emerson seeks interest in Doha round re-start in Washington

craig_emerson_wideweb__470x299,023 SEPTEMBER 2010: The Australian reports that Australia's new Trade Minister has emerged from 'top-level' meetings with US officials with the belief that there is a consensus on restarting multilateral trade negotiations.

Dr Emerson told the paper that there was genuine interest in revitalising the currently stalled Doha negotiations. Furthermore, he suggested that TPP parties, all of whom are also APEC members, could be the countries that spearheaded this move with their own progress in upcoming talks.

Emerson's meeting comes ahead of a cluster of high-profile leaders' meetings which may build momentum for Doha, moribund now since 2008. These include the G20 summit in South Korea and the next APEC summit in Japan.

The Australian also reports that the US may be in the process of preparing a more enticing trade liberalisation offer to in turn make other multilateral partners lower their barriers. The full article follows below.

Chile, Vietnam close to completing FTA negotiations

factory-workers22 SEPTEMBER 2010: Vietnam's News Agency reports the newly appointed Chilean Ambassador to Vietnam, Fernando Urrutia, as saying that Chile and Vietnam are now completing negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement. The two parties held their sixth round of talks in Hanoi last month, and are likely to hold a final round in Santiago in October or November.

Two-way trade between Chile and Vietnam has already increased from US$108 million in 2005 to over US$230 million last year. Vietnam mainly exports oil, coffee, and footwear to Chile while importing processed copper, timber, and wine.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 September 2010 10:53
Survey: Australia firms wary of FTA benefits

sydney-opera-house21 SEPTEMBER 2010: The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a survey of a number of businesses by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has found that a number of them no longer see the benefit in the federal government negotiating free trade agreements.

The survey suggested that many businesses feel they have gained little in the way of market access and measurable benefits from the agreements ratified to date. Furthermore, they believe they are gaining more from direct trade measures (ie: grant schemes for exporters) than from the intricacies of multiple trade deals.

The Chamber's survey comes as part of a submission to to the Australian Productivity Commission, who were asked by the government last November to inquire into the benefits of bilateral and regional trade deals. In July, the Commission released a draft report of their findings suggesting future national income flowing from such deals was likely to be 'modest'.

The response from the Chamber comes as the newly appointed Trade Minister, Dr Craig Emerson, travels to Washington DC to meet with his US counterparts and attend the Global Services Summit. Trade Ministers from New Zealand and Malaysia will also be in attendance. Dr. Emerson has announced that he hopes to promote both global services trade reform and new support for the Doha Round during his visit.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 September 2010 10:56
Philippines pointed towards TPP by APEC official

Philippines_flag20 SEPTEMBER 2010: The US senior official to APEC, Kurt Tong, has told BusinessWorld that the Philippines would be best advised to concentrate on taking steps to become a viable partner in the TPP.

Speaking on the sidelines of a lecture at the Asian Institute of Management, Tong told reporters that a bilateral trade pact between the US and the Philippines was not an option at this time, and that a US-ASEAN FTA was also not being considered - he also noted that a number of ASEAN nations are currently participating in the TPP negotiations or have expressed interest in doing so (Malaysia, Japan).

Tong suggested the Philippines, which currently forms the US's second largest export market after China and Hong Kong, may want to take a look at the standard the TPP is likely to reach and 'benchmark' against it.

Australia gets new Minister of Trade, post-election

craig_emerson_wideweb__470x299,015 SEPTEMBER 2010: Following its recent general election, Australia's Labor government has reshuffled its Cabinet, replacing Simon Crean as Minister of Trade with Dr. Craig Emerson. Dr. Emerson, who previously worked as an economic adviser to the United Nations, and served as the Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs in Kevin Rudd's government, has previously strongly criticised the Howard-era system of bilateral trade-agreements, especially the Australia-US FTA, as "a paperwork nightmare for exporting and importing businesses". He has also advocated continued multilateral negotiations through the WTO system, saying that "trade policy should revert to the principle of non-discrimination that formed the cornerstone of the world trading system before the rise of preferential deals".

Speaking to Sydney's 2GB radio station on September 14, Dr. Emerson indicated that Labor policy would not re-erect any of the tariff barriers removed on imports since Bob Hawke's 1980s government, and indicated continued strong support for foreign investment into Australia:

“We live in a global economy, and we do need foreign investment…we want Australia to remain an attractive place for foreign investment. We still get a lot of benefit out of big projects and enterprises that are partly or even wholly foreign-owned in this country… Of course there are some areas, Ross, in the economy, where people are more sensitive about foreign investment, that’s natural, but I think as a general presumption, we should be in favour of foreign investment, not against it.”

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 September 2010 08:53
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