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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.

 

 

b-421297-Lima_Peru30 AUGUST 2010: Inside US Trade reports that while TPP members discussed complex and concrete proposals on how to structure market access agreements in any final agreement, there were seversal unresolved points at the end of a two day 'intersessional' meeting in Peru.

Sources said negotiators could not agree on how past market access schedules in previous FTA's would relate to any new schedules, or how to structure the market access talks for the TPP itself - and that these are being treated as two interrelated issues.

It is understood that the US presently favours keeping pre-negotiated market access schedules unaltered, while Australia (whose existing market access arrangements with the US exclude key products such as sugar) is arguing in favour of 'opening up' the schedules for future concessions. However the USTR disputes this interpretation, responding that talkd have been more 'nuanced'.

Proposals discussed in terms of structuring market access have included the idea of negotiating a single market access schedule while leaving scope for bilateral outcomes alongside it. Both Malaysia and Canada were present at the intersessional for bilateral talks with TPP members,  but did not formally participate in the market access talks. Canada is set to meet US trade representatives on the weekend of September 6 for more expansive talks. Both the US and NZ have expressed misgivings about Canada failing to offer sufficient dairy market access and its agricultural supply management system, should it join the talks.

Meanwhile, members of the TPP business coalition in the US are preparing revised papers for the office of the USTR ahead of the third round of talks in Brunei, with a focus on hotly-debated areas such as regulatory coherence.

 

 

canada27 APRIL 2010: The Canadian Minister of Trade, Peter Van Loan, has indicated that Canada intends to focus more strongly on bilateral and plurilateral trade agreements rather than concentrating solely on the progress of multilateral WTO talks. These may include the completion of talks with the European Union, as well as an FTA with Colombia. Van Loan indicated that Canada is watching the TPP talks 'with interest', but its success in joining negotiations is likely to rely substantially on its removing protections for its dairy and poultry sectors. Inside US Trade have received confirmation Van Loan has met with USTR Ron Kirk, but did not indicated whether this included discussion of Canada's future with the TPP.

 

 

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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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australasia_1APRIL 2 2010: The possibility of a broad regional trade agreement in the Pacific is reportedly leading Australia, New Zealand and Singapore to consider reopening the market access arrangements in their own existing bilateral trade agreements. While sources are suggesting this is being done with an intention of creating a single, unified market access schedule to eliminate a 'spaghetti bowl' effect ahead of a TPP Agreement, a USTR official has already expressed doubts about reopening these agreements at a sensitive time. An Inside US Trade story follows below the break...

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A paper put out and submitted to the USTR by the Washington-based Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics has backed the US's decision to enter TPP negotiations, while urging that "the US objective should be to reach agreement on a TPP including at least a dozen Asia Pacific countries, including Japan and Korea and at least one major ASEAN country as well as the eight that are currently committed to the initiative, by the time of the APEC Summit to be hosted by the United States in President Obama's home town of Honolulu in late 2011." The paper goes on to recommend that participation "immediately" be extended to Canada and Mexico. One of the paper's authors, C. Fred Bergsten, is interviewed here.

 
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