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Crunch Time for TPPA at Salt Lake City Meeting 19-24 November

11 November 2013

For immediate release

Crunch Time for TPPA at Salt Lake City Meeting 19-24 November

‘Every ounce of political pressure will come on the negotiators during a special round of talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that are scheduled for Salt Lake City from 19 to 24 November’, according to Professor Jane Kelsey from the University of Auckland.

The meeting comes two weeks before the TPPA trade ministers will reportedly convene in Singapore from 7th to 9th December, immediately following the World Trade Organization ministerial conference in Bali.

The US Trade Representative has billed this as a meeting of ‘chief negotiators and key experts’ from the 12 countries.

That is an euphemism for the entire negotiating teams on three main chapters where there are still major unresolved issues - intellectual property, state-owned enterprises and investment - and possibly others, such as government procurement, rules of origin, and legal issues.

Those groups have already met during the last month and most have made limited progress.

‘This is clearly crunch time’, Professor Kelsey said. ‘The meeting aims to present the ministers with a platform for making political trade-offs, including on agriculture.’

‘The chapters on intellectual property and state-owned enterprises are still stuck. The US continues to make extreme demands. Countries who believe this will impose an unacceptable price on their countries are still holding out.’

‘A breakthrough on any of these areas would either mean the other countries have capitulated or the US has proposed a compromise that the US Congress will accept.’

‘A compromise would still go further than any existing rules, even for countries that already have free trade and investment agreements with the US’.

‘For New Zealand, it would mean far-reaching new disciplines on what governments can do. Even a whiff of dairy market access would be contingent on accepting those.’

‘But President Obama does not have fast track negotiating authority. Until he does Congress could reject any compromise as not going far enough’.

‘Of course, if the government has its way we won’t know what they are until the deal is done’. Professor Kelsey warned.

ENDS

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