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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.

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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.

 

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".

 

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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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

 

 

MARCH 15, 2010: highway20workersTrade unions from across the Pacfic have called for a fairer trade agreement network today, fearing the possible outcomes of an 'everything on the table' agreement. New Zealand's Council of Trade Unions has been keeping counsel with its counterparts in the US and Australia. The joint declaration of the combined TPP unions (Australia, NZ, Singapore, USA) can be read here. The individual unions, including CTU have issued their own statements.

 

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Inside US Trade, March 2 2010

kim_beazley_lismore

Australian Ambassador Kim Beazley today (March 2) signaled that
negotiations to create the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement
should put all issues on the table and not automatically keep in place
exemptions from market access commitments contained in current free
trade agreements the U.S. has with some of the countries now
participating in the TPP negotiations.

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