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chile_flag16 FEBRUARY 2011: The fifth round of TPP talks began in Santiago this week, with US pushes for more aggressive IP reform in the text expected to be a major source of debate and commentator discussion.

New Zealand, along with one another country, is understood to have submitted a draft text on IP, described as 'relatively progressive' compared to the IP provisions contained in most modern US FTAs.

As covered previously on TPPDigest, NZ negotiatiors have expressed concerns at the US's more aggressive demands on IP in the talks, which were understood to expand on IP provisions in the US-Australia FTA and make up for ground conceded in the current version of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The US reportedly submitted its own draft text to negotiators at the same time as NZ.

As with the Auckland talks last December, public statements on the progress of the talks are expected to limited to brief press conferences with stakeholders and the media.

However, delegates will be presented with signed open letters and petitions from civil society groups in Australia, Malaysia, Chile, NZ and the US asking that negotiations be made public and transparent. Negotiators will also be presented with a paper authored by Professor Jane Kelsey and Third World Network's Sanya Reid Smith, linking the agreement to continued international financial instability and offering a mock draft text.

Professor Kelsey says the current negotiations fail to recognise that the 2008 global financial crisis was the product of excessive liberalisation and deregulation, and that rather than rethinking an unsuccessful model, the TPPA negotiations appear to be bolting the door closed on the options for governments to re-regulate the financial sector and impose controls on speculative capital flows in ways that meet the needs of their people”.

The mock text is intended to approximate the actual text, still under negotiations conducted in secret. It is based on existing FTAs between the US and Singapore, Australia, Chile and Peru.

The authors recommend that financial services, financial investment and movement of currency are all excluded from the TPPA. Failing this, the agreement must provide allowances for national governments to continue to regulate the financial sector and financial transactions so as to prevent another crisis in the future.


 

circuit-boards20 DECEMBER 2010: Inside US Trade reports that USTR held a meeting with US stakeholders last week, where it was indicated that US negotiators would likely draft a proposed text covering all aspects on an intellectual property rights chapter at the fifth round of talks in Chile in February.

To date, the US has tabled proposals for general provisions and trademarks of an IP chapter of TPP. The February talks would see the US table sections on copyright, patents, and IP rights enforcement.

A blog on Knowledge Economy International, representatives of which were present at the stakeholder meeting, indicates that the US intends that unlike ACTA (in ACTA's current form), the TPP will have a dispute resolution process where parties may be subject to fines and penalties for breach of the agreement. KEI were also told the Obama Administration would not consider anything which lowered IPR norms as part of the TPP - in effect, IP laws and rights can only be harmonised upwards in TPP. KEI has some good examples of how this departs from executive policy under both the Clinton and Bush Administrations on its site.

 

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.

 

border-fence21 JUNE 2010: Inside US Trade reports that US negotiators are resisting demands from other TPP parties to further open its own borders to allow the temporary entry of highly skilled workers. Assistant USTR Barbara Weisel relayed Congress's desire that it does not want USTR to negotiate market access on immigration in the TPP context during a June 15 briefing to stakeholders at the San Francisco talks. This would appear to be an accurate reflection of bipartisan pressure in the US government against further immigration-liberalising provisions in US FTAs.

However, it has also been made clear that the current favourable visa concessions to highly skilled workers from Singapore and Chile are unlikely to be scaled back from their bilateral trade agreement forms in the TPP, as both parties are likely to object to such a reduction.

Weisel also acknowledged the original P4 text at this meeting, as negotiated between NZ, Australia, Singapore and Brunei. Chapter 13 of that agreement required that parties "exchange information on measures that affect the temporary entry of business persons", and required the parties to review the rules and conditions applicable to movement of natural persons "with a view to achieving a comprehensive chapter on temporary entry".

 

scenic_lake24 JUNE 2010: Following a call by the USTR for submissions for a proposed TPP environmental review, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, the Environmental Investigation Agency, Friends Of The Earth US, and The Sierra Club have written a nine-page submission urging for negotiators to ensure that all imports of wood, wildlife or products thereof meet the standards and laws of their country of origin. The groups have argued that a strongly-worded agreement could curb illegal regional trade in these products. In doing so, they hope that the TPP will take its cues from the 2008 US Lacey Act, which currently governs US prohibitions on illegally sourced fish, wildlife, and plant products.

The submitting groups are particularly worried about observing member Vietnam and prospective member Malaysia's reputations for illegal logging, as well as Chile and Peru's issues with illegal trade in fish. Inside US Trade reports that the environmental review will continue throughout negotiations, with a final report to be produced at their conclusion.

The groups additionally seek a scale-back of the ability for private entities to challenge government decisions in investor-state disputes, saying that these run against the ability of governments to regulate in the public interest. Their full letter can be read here.

 

ustr57The Office of the United States Trade Representative has just released its annual 'hit list' for 2010 on subsisting trade barriers in its trading partner countries. All seven of its current negotiating partners in the TPP are reviewed, with all having particular areas where the US argues further reform, liberalisation, or transparency is needed. These include pharmecutical goods, audiovisual and media services, tariff barriers, investment rules, e-commerce, and legal services. All 2010 USTR profiles can be found on the respective country page on this site, and below.

 




USTR report on NZ's Foreign Trade Barriers, 2010

USTR report on Australian Trade Barriers, 2010

USTR report on Chilean Trade Barriers, 2010

USTR report on Brunei's Trade Barriers, 2010

USTR report on Singapore's Trade Barriers, 2010

USTR report on Peru's Trade Barriers, 2010

USTR report on Vietnam's Trade Barriers, 2010

 

 
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