2 Oct 2015

TPP negotiations to roll on for third day

12:24 pm on 2 October 2015

Trade negotiations will continue for a third day as the 12 countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal struggle to reach an agreement.

National MP Tim Groser

Trade Minister Tim Groser is currently in Atlanta. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

With some of the final differences still not ironed out, a spokesman for the US Trade Representative said a planned press conference on Thursday evening was cancelled and "negotiations will continue tomorrow."

Speaking from Atlanta, where the talks are being held, Trade Minister Tim Groser said yesterday there was some movement on improved access for dairy products.

However, he said that the confidential nature of the talks meant he was limited to "almost meaningless generalities".

"We've seen some glimmerings, that's all I can say," he said.

The countries are hoping to strike a deal before talks end on Saturday (NZT), but, talking to Morning Report, Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand chairman Malcolm Bailey said a third day of negotiations was necessary.

"These are tricky issues, to broaden my comments out beyond dairy. At the moment, we're hopeful that our government can make progress here."

He said that from a dairy perspective, New Zealand was encountering issues across Canada, Japan and the US, "simply that the offers made in terms of improved market access just aren't adequate."

Mr Bailey said dairy was one of the most protected parts of world trade and that New Zealand had certain expectations that it would not negotiate on.

"We've got important bottom lines that can't be compromised, and, in the end, if it can't be done, it can't be done.

"We won't get everything that we want, but we've got to be reasonable on it," he said.

Mr Bailey said though he was primarily involved in dairy negotiations, he wanted to see New Zealand get a good deal across the board.

He said he wanted the Pharmac system to be looked after but acknowledged that drugs companies needed to have enough capital to develop new drugs.

A small number of protesters were on site in Atlanta, but Mr Bailey said they were mistaken in thinking the TPP was predominantly about supporting big business.

"It's been a handful of people here - to be honest, they're somewhat pathetic, they don't know what they're talking about. Grossly misinformed."

"When you explain to them that there are a lot of family farmers who need to make a living [...] it's a revelation."'

Cars and drugs bog down negotiations

Talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have been bogged down by several issues, including how the US opens its market to foreign auto parts - particularly from Japanese car makers - and how much Canada is willing to open its market to dairy products like cheese from Australia and New Zealand.

Also still unresolved is the US push to establish lengthier patent protections for biologic drugs, made using living organisms, which is being resisted by a number of the 12 countries involved in the talks - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

There were worries that the negotiators would again not be able to bridge their differences, two months after a meeting of the ministers in Hawaii failed to strike a deal.

Since initiating the talks in 2008, the United States has been hoping to lock in rules on free trade and intellectual property protection that global trade heavyweight China would eventually have to heed.

China, however, has already begun trying to set up its own Asia trade agreement, which analysts worry could take concrete shape if TPP talks fail.

- AFP/RNZ