Trade Ministers, Leaders Give Push To TPP

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Closed-door negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement have gained intensity since late August in Brunei with the added push of ministers, according to a statement by participants, but it is unclear what specific progress was made.

Off-record intersessional meetings will be held over the next few weeks, the statement said, followed by the coming together of leaders from the TPP region in the margins of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum Summit, to be held in Bali on 7-8 October. As of last week, the leaders of the China, Russia and the United States had committed to attend the APEC Summit, according to the official website. This year’s APEC host Indonesia said it hopes the leaders of all 21 APEC members would attend the summit.

The countries negotiating the TPP are: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Vietnam.

A summary from the Brunei round claimed that “negotiators advanced their technical work this round on the texts covering market access, rules of origin, investment, financial services, intellectual property, competition, and environment,” along with other areas. But no public information is available to determine what these texts say nor how they were advanced. It offers only that “Their discussions both jointly and bilaterally were successful in identifying creative and pragmatic solutions to many issues and further narrowing the remaining work.”

The 19th negotiating session from 22-30 August was preceded by a ministers’ meeting on 22-23 August, which provided guidance to negotiators, according to another short statement.

According to a press report, TPP ministers will meet just before the APEC Summit, and the working group on intellectual property will meet in Mexico in late September, among other meetings.

Public health advocates have raised concerns about the possible negative impact of the TPP intellectual property text on developing countries’ access to medicines. See a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) press release here.

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