US trade rep: Pacific ministers make headway in Hawaii talks

“On market access, we have concluded our negotiations with most TPP parties, where import duties for most products will be eliminated”, Mustapa said in a statement today.


Representatives from the 12 nations fronted a press conference, admitting they hadn’t arrived at a deal and there was no set date for future talks.

Trade ministers and negotiators from the twelve countries supposed to be involved in the world’s largest economic agreement have apparently deadlocked on a couple of issues during talks that continued into the early hours on Saturday, according to multiple reports citing sources aware of the talks.

Despite the progress made, issues pegged as sticking points going into the talks were still blocking a deal after four days of discussions.

High-level negotiations in Hawaii on a trade agreement in the Pacific Rim wrapped up without a final deal as disagreements over dairy and vehicle policies trumped progress in other areas.

The talks have also covered establishing environmental protections for participant nations, which range from developing countries like Vietnam to industrial powers like Japan.

Hawaii’s sugar industry was once the state’s third-biggest employer, producing 1.2 million tons of sugar from 240,000 acres, as mentioned by American Sugar Alliance economics director Jack Roney, who attributes part of the decline to U.S. trade deals allowing imports from 41 foreign suppliers.

“We are encouraged by the progress made during this round of TPP negotiations, and we urge negotiators to continue working together to achieve a comprehensive and high-quality agreement as soon as possible”, said Tom Linebarger, head of the Business Roundtable’s global Engagement Committee.

Three sources involved in the talks said a last-minute breakthrough was unlikely due to issues with dairy and auto trade and a stand-off over biologic drugs, which are made from living cells.

Groser didn’t provide details, in an effort to avoid causing problems for his negotiating partners, but said the countries have agreed to what he called “commercially meaningful access”.

“The calendar is never your friend”, Susan C. Schwab, President George W. Bush’s trade negotiator, said earlier in the week. “We have advanced toward the conclusion”.

Asked how the countries could address falling expectations for a deal, Amari said they should quickly reach an agreement.

He argued a pact by the 12 nations would become the standard for the Asia-Pacific region. Their numbers will grow.

“I think what everybody would agree is that once the writ is dropped, that without a TPP deal, the Conservatives’ bargaining position certainly is weaker”, NDP trade critic Don Davies said.

The agreement has been controversial in New Zealand because of fears it may raise the price of medication for national drug-buying agency Pharmac and could lead to companies being able to sue governments for changing laws.

Eyeing the US, Canada, Mexico, and Japan, New Zealand insists it would not support any deal unless it impacts positively to open up dairy markets; with John Wilson, chairman of New Zealand dairy cooperative Fonterra coming in on Thursday to drive home the necessity of opening dairy markets.


Mr Robb said the TPP involved 12 countries which accounted for nearly 40 per cent of GDP and presented an opportunity for truly transformational reform. But there’s potential it could join the pact later.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Japan's Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Akira Amari pose during a group