major controversies remain unresolved as desperation grows to cut a ‘deal’ at Singapore Ministerial December 7-10
‘Claims that trade ministers are close to a final deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) seem incredible, given the long list of matters that remain unresolved after a week of intense negotiations in Salt Lake City’, according to Professor Kelsey from the University of Auckland, who was in Utah monitoring the talks.
Trade ministers from the twelve countries are threatening to make a deal, in secret, when they meet in Singapore from 7 to 10 December.
‘The US is not going to agree to anything it can’t sell to the Congress, especially without Fast Track negotiating authority. That suggests any deal will run roughshod over the long held opposition of a number of countries to US demands’, said Professor Kelsey.
Trade-offs threaten to impact on a wide raft of significant non-trade matters, including affordable medicines, Internet freedom, financial regulation, investor-initiated disputes against governments, data privacy, and more.
Officials from the 12 countries worked day and night in Salt Lake City to narrow their disagreements on a dozen chapters that are yet to be completed. Remaining matters were referred to the chiefs to try to resolve or sent forward to trade ministers to decide in Singapore.
Ministers are expected to announce they have reached agreement on specific ‘landing zones’ for the long list of outstanding issues and require officials to conclude the texts by early 2014.
‘That may be bluff, disguising yet another missed deadline at the end of 2013. Almost every politically sensitive issue that has arisen in three years of negotiations – and which were the reason why every previous TPP deadline was missed – has still not been resolved’, Kelsey observed.
‘But the sense in Salt Lake City was that the ministers are deadly serious about this being the “end game” ’.
‘Whether the outcome is cosmetic or real, Tim Groser and his counterparts are bound to the spin it with claims of great benefits and minimal costs for every country, including New Zealand,’ Professor Kelsey warned.
‘Without access to the text, how are we to assess and contest those claims?’
Professor Kelsey urged ‘everyone who has concerns about the TPPA to make their voices heard by the government, opposition parties – especially Labour – and influential interest groups to ensure that a quick and dirty deal on the TPPA is not done in Singapore.’
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