politics

TPP negotiators finish 'difficult' round of talks

8 Comments

Negotiators from 12 Pacific countries concluded a week of talks in Brunei on a free-trade agreement Friday but announced no breakthroughs in discussions that one official called "difficult".

The effort pushed by U.S. President Barack Obama to create an Asia-Pacific free-trade area covering nearly 40% of global economic output has run into turbulence amid protectionist reflexes, casting doubt on hopes of concluding the pact by year-end.

"Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators intensified their work this week to close gaps between them... to discuss possible landing zones on remaining sensitive and challenging issues," a joint statement said, giving no substantive details.

But a Malaysian official said negotiators made little progress.

"I know it was a difficult round," the senior Malaysian trade official told AFP, providing no specifics.

The talks have been shrouded in secrecy through 19 rounds since 2010, hosted by the countries involved.

The TPP has stirred protests in various nations amid fears it could leave domestic markets exposed to foreign competition.

Washington wants negotiations completed this year.

"I don't think it is a realistic timeline," the Malaysian official said, adding that the country's government was yet to decide whether it would ultimately remain in the effort.

"We have reached a critical stage. So now we need to assess, to take stock -- what if we continue, what if we don't."

Powerful agriculture lobbies in Japan are resisting the TPP and concerns have been raised that Japanese demands for exceptions may present a sticking point.

"There was no sector that did not make any progress (in Brunei)," Koji Tsuruoka, Japan's chief TPP negotiator, told a news conference in the sultanate Friday.

"On the other hand, there was no sector that has been resolved and completed," he added.

Malaysian Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed last week said his country had "serious difficulties" with the potential impact on state-owned firms.

The TPP joint statement said further meetings were expected in the coming weeks but gave no specifics.

However, Japanese media said a gathering of top negotiators was being arranged for Sept 18-21 in Washington.

Delegates have previously expressed hopes of concluding the pact in time for a major economic summit in October.

The annual summit of the 21-economy Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) bloc is held this year in Bali, Indonesia.

APEC includes all 12 TPP countries -- Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

© (C) 2013 AFP

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

8 Comments
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Why are these discussions "shrouded in secrecy?"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Because the serfs might find out that the ruling class consider them to be peons, chattel and unwashed tools?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

If they where not "shrouded in secrecy" every time they settled on an idea it would influence the market. For example If it was leaked that White Sugar was on the table US Sugar company stock would get sold and Australian Sugar company stock bought b/c US companies cant compete with Australian in that sector.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It is very understandable that USTR is having difficulty negotiating this TPP in Japan and other Asian countries (after 4-years of delays, and 4-years of missed Presidential ending forecasts, there still is no realistic sign that they will be concluded anytime soon). It is because USTR team is inept and has little comprehension of the cultures and business practices in those countries, yet they refuse any offered (e.g. from myself) consulting support from outside experts that better understand the needs and sensitivities of the politicians, businesses, and citizens in these countries. USTR blames the foreigners as obstructionists for their protection to sectors such as vehicles, rice, etc. in Japan...while the whole time demanding all countries must agree to USA carve-outs such as Sugar, String-Forward (sewing & cloth-making) and Textiles, Truck/Cars, Dairy, etc. that were part of the historical FTAs with each country. USTR demands that Investor-State disputes (ISDS) be settled by an international panel of arbitrators (which destroys the justice system in each country, and diminishes the protections of the WTO). In USA, the Government always claims 'Sovereign Immunity' protections, but USTR demands would allow businesses (or even foreign investors) to sue an entire State for supposed grievances. The American car industry is not as much interested in growing their presence in Japan as they are towards keeping their 25-percent Tariff on Light Trucks (2.5-percent on Cars). USTR continues to say 'don't look behind that TPP secrecy curtain'...instead, I say, it is time to pull the curtain back on USTR negotiations on TPP, so the public can understand what the Wizard of OZ (USTR) is unskillfully jerking around behind the scenes. It is time that USTR admits they have little understanding about what is important to Japanese and American businesses and invite additional experts (such as myself) to support with our multi-cultural, bi-lingual, business expertise.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Agree with everyone here

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And another question.

Why isn't China in the TPP talks?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Because they're smart.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

darnname,

That must be it, then.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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