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Cablegate: New Zealand Lead Negotiator Discusses Vision and Challenges

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHWL #0327/01 3550621
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210621Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0262
INFO RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0058
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 0007
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE USD FAS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON

UNCLAS WELLINGTON 000327

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
STATE PLEASE PASS TO USTR WEISEL/BISBEE
TREASURY PLEASE PASS TO WILLIAM FOSTER
AGRICULTURE PLEASE PASS TO EVAN MANGINO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD PGOV NZ ECON ECIN EINV
SUBJECT: New Zealand Lead Negotiator Discusses Vision and Challenges
for TPP

1. (SBU) Summary. During a December 15 courtesy call, the
Ambassador engaged Ministry of Foreign Affairs Trans-Pacific
Agreement Lead Negotiator Mark Sinclair on his views of the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Sinclair expressed his hope that
New Zealand and the United States will work closely to produce a
"high quality" regional deal. According to Sinclair, New Zealand's
TPP negotiating team does not yet have a formal mandate from the
Cabinet; the team plans to first seek guidance from the Cabinet
after surveying other countries' positions at the initial March
round in Melbourne. Sinclair emphasized that New Zealand is
seeking a "clean result" without carve outs, but he cautioned that
other TPP members have residual sensitivities from previous free
trade agreements already signed with the United States, which will
make it difficult to get a good result. Overcoming these obstacles
will require a frank dialogue about what the eight countries hope
to achieve; this common understanding will serve as the basis for a
solid TPP agreement. Sinclair said that New Zealand feels a
special kinship with the Vietnamese since New Zealand and Vietnam
are the only two countries in the TPP without a free trade
agreement (FTA) with the United States. New Zealand hopes to raise
the TPP with Vietnam in bilateral discussions slated for January.
End Summary.

Looking to Washington for Leadership

--------------------------------------------- -----

2. (SBU) Sinclair emphasized that the TPP is a central element in
a full bilateral agenda, and as such, it requires the two sides
coordinate closely. He also noted that since New Zealand is one of
the few countries already in the TPP that does not already have an
FTA with the United States, bilateral negotiations will figure
importantly. Sinclair said he was struck by the U.S.
Administration's reference to the TPP as a "high quality regional
deal". "This has implications for us," said Sinclair, "especially
when it reaches beyond borders." It will increase the challenges
and bring us back to the issue of political management of the
process. He emphasized that the United States will need to play a
leading role in managing the political process by sending the
"right signals" on carve outs and exemptions. Sinclair also
underscored the importance his team attaches to the working
relation with the U.S. Trade Representative's office and expressed
his hopes that the two sides can work closely.

3. (SBU) According to Sinclair, New Zealand does not yet have a
formal mandate for the TPP. Typically FTA negotiating teams go to
the Cabinet for guidance. However, the TPP negotiating team is
waiting until after March meetings in Melbourne. Sinclair views
the meeting in Melbourne as an "opportunity to hear what others
intend for the process." He can then go to the Cabinet to seek
guidance after he has survey the lay of the land. Sinclair said he
is particularly interested in what Washington is looking for in the
TPP and asked the Ambassador for his views on the matter. In
response, the Ambassador noted that it is too early to tell.

Looking to Test the Boundaries

-----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Sinclair cautioned that other countries that are
currently part of the TPP and already have FTA's with the United
States have residual sensitivities from prior negotiations.
Australia and Chile may be particularly predisposed to being
conservative on the TPP. As a result, Sinclair concluded that much
of the "intellectual effort" will need to come from Washington and
Wellington. As the biggest player, Washington will play a very
important role in coming up with the right framework. And, to the
extent possible, New Zealand wants to "test the boundaries" to come


up with a high quality regional agreement.

5. (SBU) Despite the fact many of the parties will have defensive
sensitivities, New Zealand wants a "clean result across the board".
Sinclair underscored that the agreement will work best if there are
"no exemptions or carve-outs." He hoped quality would be the first
test of the agreement, adding that it will only be made possible by
integrating our objectives. To get quality, participants will have
to tackle "at the border and behind the border" issues, said
Sinclair. However, he was not confident that all the participant
countries will want to take the risk. Sinclair saw the diversity
of players and the temptation to extend flexibilities as the
biggest challenges to the process. Any exemptions made for
countries such as Vietnam will have implications for the future of
the TPP since other potential members will see an opportunity for
their own carve-outs. "Leftovers" from other FTA's will also need
to be dealt with to ensure the TPP is a quality agreement. Certain
areas, such as sanitary/phytosanitary (SPS) will be

particularly challenging to get consistent rules across the
spectrum.

Need to Build a Common Understanding

--------------------------------------------- --------

6. (SBU) The New Zealand Government hopes to first come to an
understanding of what the eight countries hope to achieve and then
build on that common understanding. Sinclair added that each
country is hanging on to its own "little fantasy" about what is
achievable. Therefore, it is important for the eight countries to
openly discuss what each wants and does not want. Each country
will also have to adjust its expectations in the end. Sinclair
warned against rushing into the technical negotiations too quickly;
rather, a great deal of hard work is needed at the "conceptual
level" first, said Sinclair. It would be a mistake to allow
separate negotiations to begin on individual chapters, each with
its own model. A comprehensive framework is needed first.

Working with Vietnam

-----------------------------

7. (SBU) Tongue-in-cheek, Sinclair noted that New Zealand and
Vietnam have a special kinship because they are two of the TPP
countries that do not already have an FTA with the United States.
Sinclair quipped that the two countries will have to stick together
because "the United States will be extra tough on us." He added
that the other members of TPP will be especially wary of Vietnam
and New Zealand because they will not want to "pay for their
gains." New Zealand will hold bilateral discussions with Vietnam
in late January or early February. Although it is a regularly
scheduled meeting, New Zealand wants to put TPP on the table.
(Comment: MFAT officials have told us on numerous occasions that
New Zealand wants to partner with the U.S. on encouraging Vietnam
to accept sensitive provisions in the TPP, such as environmental
and labor standards. They note that the United States working
alone may appear too heavy handed.)
CLARKE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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