Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


TPPA Singapore meet ends with a whimper, not a roar

25 February 2014

For immediate release

TPPA Singapore meet ends with a whimper, not a roar

‘The ministerial meeting of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade ministers ended with a whimper in Singapore today’, said University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey, who is observing the meeting.

‘The four-paragraph statement from the ministers was totally anodyne. They could just as easily reissued the statement from December – although that one said the ministers would meet the next month. There was no reference to next steps this time round’, Professor Kelsey reported.

There are two major reasons for the ongoing failure to conclude the deal. First, the crucial market access negotiations for agriculture are in deadlock as the US and Japan maintain deeply entrenched positions over market access for agriculture.

‘New Zealand and the other nine countries are bystanders as the elephants in the room battle it out.’

The US is demanding major concessions from Japan on its ‘five sacred products’ of rice, beef and pork, sugar, wheat and dairy, as well as automobiles, but is unwilling to make concessions itself. However, the US is equally unwilling to open its automobile market to Japan’s light trucks.

Even if the US and Japan do make a deal that suits themselves, there is no guarantee it would be extended to the others and may be of limited use if it was. Both countries have been insisting that market access negotiations are bilateral.

‘New Zealand would have very little leverage in bilateral negotiations with the US or Japan’, Kelsey observed. ‘The chances of getting anything significant out of this deal seem incredibly slim’.

Tim Groser has said repeatedly that New Zealand will walk away from such an outcome. ‘How long are we going to keep pouring scarce resources into this negotiation, where the potential returns are so low and risks to regulatory sovereignty are so high?,’ Professor Kelsey asked.

‘There is no sign that a breakthrough is imminent. Instead, the diplomatic speak has become increasingly acerbic, with the US and Japan accusing each other of intransigence’, Professor Kelsey observed.

The US has publicly floated the possibility that Japan might leave the talks if it is not able to meet US demands. President Obama’s visit to Japan in April has been cut back to allow him to include South Korea.

‘That is a conscious snub to Japan, where Obama was due to dine with the Emperor. Two nights and one day allows very little time for discussion on the TPPA alongside the other foreign policy concerns, including Japan’s tense relationship with China.’

Professor Kelsey suggests that moves by the US to push Japan into a corner could backfire. There is enormous pressure back in Tokyo, including in the governing party.

The second, related roadblock is that governments cannot make decisions on a number of outstanding policy and regulatory issues. Some are genuine red lines that governments won’t cross. Others are being held back for trade-offs. But in a number of chapters, such as investment, State-owned enterprises, intellectual property and environment, negotiators are still working through substantive issues.

‘What happens next is anyone’s guess’, Kelsey said. ‘If Japan and the US do a deal the dominoes could fall quite quickly as governments make compromises on other major issues. But New Zealand will still be a bit player in a game driven by the major powers’.

Officials will continue meeting. But it is expensive to do so. Professor Kelsey calculates that the latest ministerial cost New Zealand taxpayers around $100,000.

There will opportunities for ministerial meetings alongside APEC in May and in Sydney in July for the G-20 meeting. But Kelsey observed that ‘the ministers can’t keep meeting without a guaranteed outcome’.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Patience: Drive Safe

Be patient before passing is the AA's message for drivers this Labour weekend.

"People taking crazy risks to get past other vehicles is one of the most dangerous things on the road,” says AA spokesperson Dylan Thomsen.

“The weather is looking good for the long weekend so the roads will be busy. Unfortunately, that also increases the chances of people getting frustrated and trying a risky passing manoeuvre. When they get past, there will probably be more traffic up ahead anyway so it won’t get people there faster.” More>>

 
 

Parliament Today:

Employment Relations Bill: Govt Strains To Get Tea Break Law Through

The Government has been left with egg on its face - failing to get its much-vaunted, but hugely unpopular, meal break law passed in the first week of its new term, Labour spokesperson on Labour Issues Andrew Little says. More>>

ALSO:

Guns: Police Association Call To Arm Police Full Time

"The new minister gave his view, that Police do not need to be armed, while standing on the forecourt of parliament. The dark irony was that the interview followed immediately after breaking news of a gunman running amok in the Canadian parliament in Ottawa..." More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Tokenism Of New Zealand's Role Against Islamic State

Our contribution against IS will be to send SAS forces to train the Iraqis? That’s like offering trainers to General Custer just as the 7th cavalry reached the Little Big Horn. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Shell And Todd Caught Drilling Without Approval

Multi-national oil company Shell’s New Zealand arm and local energy giant Todd Energy have breached the new law governing New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the Environmental Protection Authority says in an Oct. 10 document released by the Green Party. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Pharmac, Gough Whitlam And Sleater-Kinney

We’re not at the outset of these negotiations. The outset was six years ago, and negotiators were hoping to have some sort of ‘framework’ deal finished in time for the APEC meeting in a few weeks’ time. These ‘extreme’ positions are what we’ve reached near the intended end of the negotiations… More>>

ALSO:

PM Of Many Hats: Questions, No Answers On Whale Oil

Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader – Green) to the Prime Minister: How many times since November 2008 has he spoken with blogger Cameron Slater on the phone and how many times, if any, has he texted him?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): None in my capacity as Prime Minister. More>>

ALSO:

Aussie Investigation Dropped: Call On Minister McCully To Pursue The Case Of Balibo Five

West Papua Action is deeply concerned at the lack of any clear outcome from the Australian Federal Police inquiry into the 1975 deaths of the ‘Balibo Five’ including NZ journalist Gary Cunningham. More>>

ALSO:

'Feed The Kids' Bill: Metiria Turei To Lead Fight On Feeding Hungry Children

Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei is urging all political parties to support the Feed the Kids Bill which she inherited today from Mana leader Hone Harawira. More>>

ALSO:

Parliament Today: State Opening Of Parliament

The House sat at 10.30am on Tuesday before MPs were summoned to hear the Speech from the Throne in the Legislative Council Chamber. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news