business groups

pharmaceuticals11 May 2011: The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) has declared an intention to have all its proposals on IP protections by the commencement of the next round of TPP talks in Vietnam on June 20, spurring renewed lobbying by pharmaceutical companies to secure advantages for the industry in any US bid.

Inside US Trade reports that reports that US pharma companies are seeking a final US proposal that replicates the same 'high-standard' of the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) with additional protections for more recent pharmaceutical developments such as growing use of biologics (medicinal products created from biological and organic processes, rather than chemical ones).

Additionally, they are resisting any move by the US to base a proposal on the May 10, 2007 agreement. That agreement varied the original IP conditions in the Colombia, Panama and Peru US trade agreements in order to gain bipartisan support for all three to pass through Congress. The changes were designed to help ensure access to affordable medicines in developing countries. A leaked lobbying document from the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) indicates the May 10 agreement 'openly discriminates against the innovative pharmaceutical industry and would hinder (the) ability to compete fairly by lowering IP standards in export markets).

Lobbyists have also been outspoken about the current state of play in prospective TPP export markets, including New Zealand, which has a central  state-run drug-purchasing agency (Pharmac). Pharmac is described as having a single-minded focus on 'driving down costs' that 'comes at the expense of the respect for intellectual property, transparency to the public and patient access tro better health outcomes' in the same document.

While no full details on what the US's June proposal will look like are presently available, senior USTR officials have indicated they would be open to moving away from the May 10 proposals. However, leading public health and advocacy groups are expected to use the May 10 agreement as the basis for their desired TPP proposal.


smoking_large20 JANUARY 2011: The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Phillip Morris may be using Australia's shift to implement plain packaging on cigarettes and tobacco as an example of 'extreme and disproportionate' legislation that the TPP should be able to challenge through 'investor-state' provisions.

Australia's Labor government announced last April that cigarettes would have to be sold in plain packaging from mid-2012, which would be a world first.

In a submission on the proposed trade agreement to the US Trade Representative, Philip Morris described the plain-packaging laws as an 'initiative of concern' which would allegedly violate international law and intellectual property rights.

Australian Minister for Trade Craig Emerson has offered no committment either way on the inclusion of investor-state provisions in the TPP, but has indicated that an attempt by any tobacco company to undermine Australian anti-tobacco legislation would be so much 'whistling in the wind'.

Thomas Faunce of the Australian National University has suggested in a paper for the Medical Journal of Australia that in the event of such provisions being included, Australia and other countries could initiated an interpretative declaration limiting their effect on the area of public health. Alternatively, he suggests a clause in the agreement could require that non-discriminatory legislation in the pursuit of public health and safety not be deemed expropriatory or compensable for damages.


chch23 JANUARY 2011: The southern New Zealand city of Christchurch will be visited by a number of high-level US officials at the United States New Zealand Partnership Forum next month.

The Press reports that Bush Administration USTR Susan Schwab will co-chair the forum, joined by former Senator and Govenor of Indiana Evan Bayh.

Executive Director of the NZ-US Council Stephen Jacobi has indicated the forum will 'assess how to move forward together on issues such as political security, trade and investment, education, science, and other global issues like climate change'.

The full press release appears below.

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marksinclair20 DECEMBER 2010: The New Zealand media published a series of cables at the weekend indicating covert pressure on pharmaceutical reform by US lobbies, as well as serious doubts by NZ's own trade negotiators about the possible advantages of any US-NZ free trade agreement.

Writing in the Sunday Star-Times, Nicky Hager reports that chief trade negotiator Mark Sinclair privately told a visiting US State Dept official that New Zealand had little to gain from a free-trade agreement. This differs significantly from the accounts of the potential FTA benefits given by Prime Minister John Key and Trade Minister Tim Groser.

According to the cable, detailing a February 2010 meeting, Sinclair told US Deputy Assistant Frankie Reed there was a public perception a US free-trade agreement would be an 'El Dorado' for NZ's commercial sector, but that 'the reality is different' and that NZ must 'manage expectations' about the benefits of such an agreement.

Neither Sinclair nor the NZ government has deigned to comment on the content of the cable, which also warned that negotiations would prove 'gut-wrenching' for New Zealand and criticised member states for 'hanging on to 'little fantasies' about what is acheivable'.

For the US's part, a December 2004 cable reports that the American drug industry has been 'trying in vain to persuade the New Zealand government to change its restrictive pricing policies on pharmaceuticals' and that their new tactic is to reach out directly to NZ consumers to foster demands for 'cutting-edge drugs not covered by government subsidy'. More surprisingly, that cable goes on to say that pharmaceutical companies saw direct opposition in the then-Labour government's Cabinet, particularly in former Primer Minister Helen Clark. It goes on to note that "the industry may be paying a price for its unsuccessful effort in 1990 to unseat Clark, who at the time was health minister".

The full-text cables on Mark Sinclair's meeting with Frankie Reed can be read here and here. An earlier cable in which Groser expresses strong desire for the US to come to the table on TPP is here, warns about 'anti-US' factions of the opposition Labour Party, and indicates his government will handle the public aspect of negotiations in a 'mature' way can be found here.

Professor Jane Kelsey has argued that the leaks indicate comprehensively that the government sees 'no tangible benefits' from a NZ-US free trade deal, and that the government should concede as such to the public. Her press release following these reports can be read below the break.

The TPP Digest is on the lookout for further Cablegate leaks relating to TPP, with all and any actual or prospective members, and will publish them as they become available.

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circuit-boardsDECEMBER 5 2010:

The December 3 edition of Inside US Trade reports that a draft paper which has now been finalized and submitted to the Office of the US Trade Representative by a coalition of US businesses is urging US negotiators to actively shape IP regimes in other TPP countries in order to protect US geographical indicators (GI’s). Apart from protecting certain GI’s already existing in the US, the coalition wants the policy to make certain products produced in ‘significant quantities’ outside a proposed protected region (for example, ‘feta’ cheese) ineligible for GI protection. This is intended to help current US manufacturers and producers and save them the loss or cost of relabelling and rebranding.

As well, the paper requests that US negotiators replicate the IP provisions of the as-yet unsigned US-Korea trade agreement as a baseline to a text, especially in the area of patents and copyrights. It also asks for punitive protections extending beyond those in the current version of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), such as a requirement that TPP states outlaw filming in theatres.

The paper, written by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the US Chamber of Commerce, and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), also suggests that the TPP go beyond the US-Korea FTA in terms of software patents. These are traditionally a contentious area of IP rights, with critics arguing that patenting software effectively grants property rights over formulas and algorithims (ie: knowledge itself, rather than new physical inventions or processes).
The paper also contains implicit criticism of New Zealand’s public pharmaceutical purchaser, Pharmac. At one point, it urges drafters to deal with regulatory barriers which ‘have the effect of delaying or restricting access to innovative medicines to patients’. NZ is also cited as a TPP country that has yet to fully implement requirements of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)’s Copyright Treaty and Performances and Phonograms Treaty.

auckland25 NOVEMBER 2010:

Dow Jones and other trade and finance sources report that TPP negotiators are looking to begin assembling a negotiating text during the fourth round of talks in Auckland. On a public hearing on Malaysia’s entry into talks following the third round, Assistant USTR Barbara Weisel has encouraged business and other groups to ‘move quickly’ to provide input due the fast pace of negotiations.




Actions by activists and civil society groups, unprecedented amounts of local coverage, and a major newspaper ad by New Zealand TPP opponents marked the beginning of the Auckland round of talks yesterday.

The NZ Herald ran an advertisement from a mixture of fourteen New Zealand celebrities, politicians, trade unionists, and academics - encouraging the reader to become the fifteenth 'reason to challenge the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement'.

A crowd of over 30 protesters gathered for an early-morning demonstration outside the CBD SkyCity Convention Centre, where talks are being held, while the co-leader of at least one NZ political party expressing concern about the final outcome of the agreement.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman told state broadcaster TVNZ that NZ's overseas investment regime may be targeted if the agreement is successful, while also drawing attention to his fears about investor-state dispute mechanisms. Norman called for PM John Key and Trade Minister Tim Groser to publicly undertake that no 'NAFTA-style' mechanisms would be included in TPP.

The Dominion Post ran an article with more optimistic predictions on the TPP from Groser and New Zealand-US Business Council executive director Stephen Jacobi, although neither dwelled on possible changes to existing investment frameworks.

Speaking in Parliament on Groser's behalf today, Acting Trade Minister Murray McCully said he could offer no guarantees that existing NZ policies would not be changed as a consequence of TPP, but indicated that NZ negotiators would take an 'interest-based' approach at talks.

Photos of the Monday demonstration follow below.

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nzprotests5 DECEMBER 2010: Members of the public who want to demonstrate their opposition to a NAFTA-style TPP and hear from alternative TPP experts and commentators this week in Auckland have three great opportunities to do so, with two public demonstrations on Monday and a public meeting on Tuesday 7 December.

Information is as follows:

Protests:  Monday 6th December: “No to the TPPA. Stop Gambling with Our Future
8.30am, SKYCITY Convention Centre, Federal Street, Auckland

5.30pm, Voyager Maritime Museum, Corner Quay and Hobson Streets, Auckland Viaduct Basin

Public meeting: Tuesday 7th December

6-8 pm           St-Matthew-in-the-City, cnr Hobson & Wellesley Sts, Auckland

Main speaker: Prof Jane Kelsey. Commentators Mike Smith, Sanya Read Smith (Third World Network), Andrew Campbell (FinSec) and other international guests(
The views expressed during this event are not necessarily those of St Matthew-in-the-City)

The Tuesday event is free. All members of the public are completely welcome to all events, whether they consider themselves well-familiarised with free trade agreements or whether they are anxious to learn more about what they may contain and NZ’s role within them.

Also note that Jane Kelsey and Third World Network's Sanya Read Smith, who will be present in Auckland for the talks, will each be speaking about the leak and other TPP issues at a media briefing at the Welcome Room, Sky City Hotel, at 3pm on Monday 6 December. All media are welcome for this event.

While a number of key activities and discussions will be private and not open to the media, those not attending the talks but following them locally during the week may be interested in this programme of stakeholders' events. It includes presentations by both business and civil society groups, including Council of Trade Unions chief economist Bill Rosenberg and Agcarm Chief Executive Graeme Peters. Thursday and Friday's seminars are devoted to environmental issues and the question of how the TPP will deal with these.


auckland11 NOVEMBER 2010: As mentioned previously, New Zealand is hosting the fourth round of TPP talks from the 6th to 10th of December. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has invited interested stakeholders to take part in the programme during the week. Two large rooms at Auckland Central's SkyCity Casino and Function Centre have been made available for presentations and networking, and registered stakeholders will also be invited to attend an evening function with negotiatiors from all nine TPP countries.

Those intereted in presentations, or with any questions about registration or the event, may contact Alison Mann at alison.mann@mfat.govt.nz.

For registration, please click here.


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.


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.


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.


ustr572 SEPTEMBER 2010: Inside US Trade reports the the Office of the US Trade Representative is currently pursuing multiple approaches to achieve 'regulatory coherence' among TPP parties. This is being done to relieve barriers to exports. USTR is currently asking private-sector stakeholders to identify priority areas where regulatory barriers need to be examined and potentially removed.

Assistant US Trade Representative has also indicated that the US is keen to look at establishing new TPP-wide regulatory systems for emerging industries, as well as increasing transparency in current regulatory requirements among TPP countries - this may be done through the construction of a database that provides all information on these requirements in one place for those who may want to trade within the TPP.

It is reported that other USTR officials suggested that the Obama administration is looking to expand the provisions on labour and environmental protections before what was inclued in past US agreements. This may include cooperative efforts on job creation and skills enhancement, and the promotion and regulatory reform of 'green' technology. Particular areas of interest cited by US Trade Reps have reportedly been illegal logging, wildlife trafficking, and marine conservation.

microchip227 JUNE 2010: IBM are reporting that the USTR are pushing for the liberalisation of computer-related services within the TPP agreement. At a June 16 press conference, vice-president of government programmes Chris Padilla said IBM and other computing companies are seeking a TPP equivalent to the WTO's plurilateral Information Technology Agreement (ITA) which liberalised computer and telecommunications hardware. This agreement (or agreements) would ensure access to advanced information and communications technologies, services, software, and electronic commerce, while also ensuring that parties eliminate any remaining customs duties on these technologies.

sf318 JUNE 2010: The TPP is being characterised as 'the first major test' of the Obama Administration's trade agenda, according to the chairman of the US House Trade Working Group, Mike Michaud. As negotiations occur in San Francisco this week, he is once again arguing for negotiations to be conducted in the spirit of the TRADE Act, with a focus on job creation and economic opportunities for American workers and businesses. For their part, the USTR say the TPP will secure hundreds of thousands of jobs in each export-driven state.

Sources are reporting that the inclusion of new members is also a topic that will be discussed at the new round. It is being suggested that new members will be granted entrance to the talks at the consensus of all current parties, though they will be required to accept the 'high-standard' terms the other parties will have already negotiated. Canada and Malaysia are reportedly willing to meet these terms.

One likely source of dispute among the stakeholders this week has been investment, in particular investor protections against adverse government decisions. Public Citizen and other NGO watchdogs are urging a departure from previous US bilateral investment models, while business lobbyists are insisting that these investment measures in fact need to be stronger. Sources report that the US is proposing provisions similar to those contained in the recent US-Korea agreement.

Business groups, who sent a letter to Ron Kirk urging completion of talks by the APEC Leaders' Meeting in 2011, say they are pleased at the progress of targets and believe it will match their desired target, should it continue at its current speed.

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ustr5715 JUNE 2010 - The first day of the TPP negotiations has wrapped up in San Francisco, with the USTR once again dedicating a portion of its site to daily updates. It reports that a briefing was provided to major stakeholders that registered to attend the talks, including industry groups, environmental NGOs, unions, and fair trade campaigners.  Topics of discussion have included the US approach to investment issues, how the agreement will relate to its predecessors, and the process for future accessions.

A plenary was then held setting out the goals for the week: determining a framework for market access negotiations and the relationship between the TPP agreement and pre-existing FTAs, and defining a path forward on so-called “horizontal” issues including small business priorities, regulatory coherence, competitiveness, supply chains, development, and regional integration.

In the afternoon, smaller working groups split up to discuss the following:

*Technical Barriers to Trade

*Market Access

*Legal and Institutional

*Cross-Border Services




Meanwhile, as the week began, nearly 100 US companies and business groups wrote a joint letter to Ron Kirk, claiming that 'time is of the essence' and that negotiators should aim to complete talks by the end of 2011. An AFP article follows below.

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congress7 JUNE 2010 - The Wall Street Journal has written on the 'relatively modest regional deal' (in their words) that is the TPP. The pieces focuses on the gaps between the Obama administration, civil society groups, and business interests around the agreement, and quotes the National Association of Manufacturers' fears that inclusion of '21st century' labour and environmental standards could end up being too tough.

The article also quotes the sponsor of the TRADE Act bill, Michael Michaud, as reporting that House supporters of the Act's aims have met with the USTR and are working towards a 'positive trade agenda'.

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Food-Chemical-Product-Testing-Service29 MAY 2010 - Inside US Trade reports that a coalition of US businesses are drafting a series of around five position papers to submit to the USTR ahead of the start of the second round of US negotiations, set to begin on June 14 in San Francisco. The topics covered are expected to include regulatory coherence, the status of SMEs, and competition-related matters.

The coalition will reportedly offer a list of general ideas on how to advance these areas, including:





  • committing TPP members to explicitly identifying acceptable standards, testing and product certification;
  • committing TPP members to sign on to a number of other Mutual Recognition Agreements (ie: the APEC MRA for conformity in telecommunications equipment assessment);
  • encouraging TPP members to join international regulatory forums (ie: the Asian Harmonisation Working Party for medical devices);
  • importing regulatory 'best practice' for a range of international fora, including the OECD-APEC regulatory checklist;
  • exploring the formation of the TPP Regulatory Council to oversee work in this area.

usnzstars20 MAY 2010 - The NZ-US Council has announced that its fourth Partnership Forum will be held from 20-22 February in Christchurch next year. Executive Director Stephen Jacobi made the announcement yesterday at the organisation's AGM. He says over a hundred NZ and US 'thought leaders and influencers' will gather to discuss the relationship between the two countries under 'Chatham House Rules' (allowing delegates to speak and have their views considered without those views being identified as those of their organisation). Mr Jacobi indicated the Forum would be 'crucial' as it would come at a time when NZ sought to conclude TPP negotations. The Council's statement follows below.

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tokyo0115 MAY 2010 - Inside US Trade reports that private-sector sources are questioning whether the US administration needs to be doing more to bring developed Asian countries like Japan into TPP negotiations faster. These sources also say that the USTR has set down a deadline of agreeing to join the talks by early in the Northern Hemisphere fall at the latest, or be required to wait and accede to a completed deal.

"...Several sources also questioned whether a major country like Japan would be willing to accede to a TPP agreement after it has already been negotiated, rather than joining the talks so that it could influence the outcome of the negotiations. If not, this would make it paramount to ensure that countries join during the negotiations, they said.

But one source disagreed, arguing that Japan may not want to be left out of an Asia-Pacific free trade area and could ultimately agree to its terms even if it did not partake in the negotiations."

US officials had previously stressed to Inside US Trade that accession during the negotiation process may be possible, but should be kept to a one-off occurence lest it continually disrupt the negotiation process. However, the USTR has set no absolute guidelines on how and when countries may join the talks or accede to a finished deal. US officials have discussed the possibility of entry with both Colombia and Malaysia at different times since March.

cattle1 MAY 2010: The USTR has firmly opposed the notion of excluding the dairy sector in its entireity from any completed TPP negotiation. Inside US Trade reports there have been potential tradeoffs discussed, including US dairy concessions in the talks in exchange for the raising of barriers on imports of milk protein concentrates (which New Zealand is a major exporter of). USTR has made it clear, however that it does not presently back legislation imposing such tariffs. Additionally, the proposed tariffs on MPC's would violate US committments at the WTO, meaning the US may have to negotiate with WTO members not part of the TPP who believe the barriers might affect them.


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pharmaceuticals124 APRIL 2010: New Zealand's National government have indicated they will not scrap Pharmac, the Pharmaceutical Management Agency of New Zealand, under any free-trade deal. Pharmac is the New Zealand government agency that decides on behalf of the nation's District Health Boards which medicines are to be subsidised. The NZ Herald has identified it as one of two likely stumbling blocks (the other being dairy) in the completion of a free-trade agreement between NZ and the US.

Trade Minister Tim Groser has described Pharmac as "an outstandingly successful public institution" which he had seen no need to make concessions on when he negotiated with US on the Trade Ministry's behalf ten years ago, while Health Minister Tony Ryall has called predictions by NZ pharmaceutical lobby group the Researched Medicines Association that Pharmac will face pressure for reform under any TPP "hypothetical and speculative". The USTR 'hit list' on New Zealand's trade barriers for 2010 notes US industry concerns about Pharmac's 'lack of transparency and predictability' and an 'onerous' approval process for their products.


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canadaAPRIL 15, 2010 - The Globe And Mail alleges that Canada has missed the opportunity to take part in TPP negotiations, with New Zealand PM John Key re-emphasising that warning (while de-emphasising the risks to Canada of free trade with NZ) on his visit to Canada this week. Canadian  Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government declined joining the negotiations in 2006, primarily due to concern about the possible effect on the Quebec and Ontario dairy industries as a result of the inclusion of dairy-intensive member states such as New Zealand. The article itself cites a US source that is reluctant to admit new countries per each round of negotiations, but also quotes the Canadian Trade Minister as saying Canada is being 'kept in the picture'.

Canada currently has no free trade agreements with Asian nations. It operates a 'supply management' framework which uses price controls and quotas to regulate supply and demand in its dairy market.

Key said he hoped that Canada would eventually join TPP negotiations, but emphasised that Canada would have to enter into 'flexible and comprehensive agreements'. He ruled against exceptions from a New Zealand negotiating partner on dairy, telling journalists that such a deal would be 'unacceptable to us'. He also indicated that the strength of dairy lobbying in Canada will make further developments 'very challenging'. Key rejected any suggestion that the US is presently vetoing Canada's entry into the TPP.


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cattleMARCH 22, 2010 - In the wake of 30 US Senators writing to urge that dairy be excluded from any FTA negotiations between the US and New Zealand, NZ Trade Minister Tim Groser has said that their concerns are without substance. Today, he was echoed by Federated Farmers, who released a statement that concerns of an NZ dairy monopoly gutting the industry in North America were 'unfounded'. The Radio NZ article on Groser's response follows below the break.
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* Seeks middle ground between pro/anti free trade factions
* USTR predicts between 18 to 24 months of negs for TPP
* Common sets of rules may be written for some trade issues

Taken from Inside U.S. Trade
Daily News - Wednesday, February 24, 2010



President Barack Obama told the Business Roundtable today (Feb. 24) that he wants to pursue a more strategic and aggressive effort to open new markets for US exports and that he seeks a middle ground between those that reflexively support or oppose every trade deal, according to his prepared remarks.

Obama said that he wants to pursue trade agreements that align the interests of workers and businesses, following the example of other US trading partners such as "China or Germany or Brazil."

He said in pursuit of this goal, the US is launching the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement that will strengthen trade relations with Asia, the fastest growing market in the world. He said this is why his administration is pushing for a strong Doha round that creates "real access" to key global markets, and why it wants to deal with outstanding issues on the pending free trade agreements that the Bush administration negotiated with Panama, South Korea and Colombia.

Obama did not offer any time line for proceeding on any of those trade agreements, but the first session of the TPP negotiations is scheduled for mid-March. US Trade Representative Ron Kirk has said it will take between 18 to 24 months to complete the negotiations (Inside US Trade, Feb. 19)

USTR seems to be leaning toward keeping in place the market access provisions in the existing FTAs, which the US has with the majority of the TPP participants, but write a common set of rules on other issues, such as intellectual property protection, according to a Senate aide.

Obama said that those who reflexively support every trade agreement must realize that trading partners need to live up to their obligations under trade deals and that they must be enforced. He said that those who reflexively oppose every trade agreement must realize that if the United States sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deal will lose the chance of creating jobs in the United States.

Obama put his comments on trade in the context of helping the United States compete in the world, which he also said must include more exports of goods and services which support jobs in the United States. He said this is why he has set the goal of doubling exports over the next five years through the National Export Initiative, which he said would support two million jobs in the US.

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