26 Feb 2014

No deal in sight at TPP talks

7:54 am on 26 February 2014

The latest effort by ministers to conclude Trans-Pacific trade talks have failed to reach agreement on tariffs and other market access issues.

Trade ministers held four days of talks in Singapore to try to reach an agreement on the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Tim Groser at speaks to media at the TPP ministerial meeting in Singapore.

Tim Groser at speaks to media at the TPP ministerial meeting in Singapore. Photo: AFP

However ministers said they had made significant progress towards finalising what has been a controversial deal.

New Zealand's Trade Minister Tim Groser said the ministers had made progress on outstanding issues, including market access and proposed copyright and patent rules.

But he said market access for goods such as dairy products, beef and sugar remain a sticking point.

"In trade negotiations there's no such thing as a make or break meeting. What we're going is slowly chipping away at a vast stone to get down to the kernel of a very good quality trade agreement and we've made very good progress, but we're not there yet."

US Trade Representative Michael Froman said market access for agriculture in Japan remained a "significant" issue, but played down the idea that TPP talks might proceed without Japan, the second-biggest economy in the bloc, Reuters reports.

The talks ended with no precise time frame to clinch the agreements and Mr Groser does not expect the ministers to meet again until at least late April.

The US-backed deal aims to cut tariffs and set common standards on other trade issues across a dozen countries that cover almost 40 percent of the global economy.