A constructive and busy Round 15 of TPP has just concluded in New Zealand, with further good progress made across the negotiation. More than 500 delegates from the 11 TPP participating countries met from 3 to 12 December in Auckland with negotiating teams from Canada and Mexico coming to the table for the first time.
TPP Leaders set out the ambition of what they are looking to see achieved in a TPP agreement when they met in Honolulu in November 2011. That ambition was reiterated in the margins of APEC Vladivostok in September 2012 with TPP Leaders’ and Trade Ministers’ statements released at that time.
Since then a number of TPP Leaders have expressed their desire to conclude a deal in the course of the coming year. The approach to Round 15 was developed in that context.
Two main objectives were established for the round. The first of these was to ensure the smooth integration of Canada and Mexico into the negotiation. This was achieved in large part because both countries came to Auckland well prepared across the TPP negotiating brief and each made positive contributions to narrowing differences across the negotiation.
The second objective was to make continued progress across the whole negotiation in order to set a platform that could enable the conclusion of a deal in 2013. Across the more technical areas of the negotiation – such as Technical Barriers to Trade, Telecommunications, Customs, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures – negotiators worked to resolve issues and to provide clear pathways towards conclusion for issues that remain to be resolved.
In more complex or sensitive areas – such as Intellectual Property, Environment, and Investment – negotiators also worked to resolve a number of the more technical issues involved in these areas; and to more clearly frame up some of the substantive differences on more challenging issues that will need to be resolved as negotiations are brought to a conclusion.
On the various market access negotiations, discussions continued as delegations moved towards construction of an overall package which meets the ambition set out by Leaders and Ministers and is acceptable to all in goods (covering both tariffs and associated rules of origin), cross-border and financial services, investment and government procurement.
Countries now have specific follow-up work to do in preparation for the next round to take the negotiations forward on remaining areas of chapter text and in market access in order to progress towards the objective of concluding an agreement in the coming year, consistent with the clear ambition that Leaders set out in Honolulu.
More than 300 individuals from over 200 organisations registered for a well-attended programme of stakeholder engagement on 7 December. This event provided further opportunities for stakeholders and negotiators to exchange views. Seventy-one presentations were made by stakeholders on topics including Intellectual Property, Labour, Environment, Market Access, and Investment and a briefing was also held for stakeholders with Chief Negotiators.
Round 16 of TPP negotiations will be held in Singapore from 4-13 March 2013.