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Are TPPA Ministers Bluffing Or Could They Pull It Off?

Are TPPA Ministers Bluffing Or Could They Pull It Off?

The statement from the ministers of the twelve countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) meeting in Sydney has just been released.

‘The ministers have repeated much of the same hype as previously about making “significant progress” and “setting the stage to bring the negotiations to finalisation”’, according to Professor Jane Kelsey who is in Sydney observing the ministerial meeting.

However, Inside US Trade reported yesterday that Japan has tabled new offers on agriculture, including to New Zealand.

‘There is speculation over whether Japan’s new market access offers might have been enough to unlock the other negotiations on rules like intellectual property, state-owned enterprises and environment,’ Professor Kelsey reported.

Negotiators are slated to continue meeting in Sydney after the ministerial to incorporate their instructions into the draft texts.

‘Japan’s offer to New Zealand is believed to fall well short of what Trade Minister Groser set as his bottom line. If he agrees on that basis to begin trade-offs in other sensitive areas, the deal will be as lopsided as we have predicted’.

For example, there are three options on the table in the highly sensitive area of transition periods for intellectual property affecting pharmaceuticals. Professor Kelsey observed that none of them would genuinely benefit New Zealand.

‘New Zealand is already above the proposed GNI per capita income level and the Human Development Index threshold that would allow the changes to be phased in.’

The Wikileaks text posted two weeks ago shows the third option of transition periods ranged from two years to unspecified terms. However, New Zealand was not referred to in the text.

‘The most we could realistically expect as a transition period is to be included in the two-year transition. That will make minimal difference to the overall impact. But it has potential benefits for the National government, as it would be able to push out higher costs for Pharmac beyond the next election.’

According to a proposed footnote in the recent leaked text, New Zealand might have a maximum of five years after the agreement came into force before it had to implement the additional obligations on biologic medicines under the TPPA.

‘Again, that delay would help get National off the hook, as Parliament would not have to pass the new intellectual property laws immediately to comply with the agreement’.

‘This is shaping up to be as lousy a deal for New Zealand as we predicted. If they really are close to making the political trade-offs, New Zealanders need to call the government to account now’.


© Scoop Media

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