"Substantial progress" made despite failure to reach deal in TPP talks
- POSTED: 10 Dec 2013 23:49
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The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks in Singapore have failed to reach a deal on an ambitious Pacific Rim trade pact after missing a US-set deadline, but it still ended with lots of cheer.
SINGAPORE: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks in Singapore have failed to reach a deal on an ambitious Pacific Rim trade pact after missing a US-set deadline, but it still ended with lots of cheer.
Ministers said they made "substantial progress" and have found possible areas of agreement -- known as "landing zones" --- on many differences.
However, thorny issues remain.
US Trade Representative Michael Froman said: “There are still some key market access openings that we need to achieve, meaningful new opportunities for US exports that support US jobs and economic growth, and that's the same perspective that all the countries are taking around the table.
“There's the part about setting new rules for the 21st century trading system, but also about opening markets, levelling the playing field.”
If completed, the free trade agreement would cover 40 per cent of the global economy and about one-third of global trade.
More far-reaching than other deals, the TPP tackles not only tariffs and trade, but also looks to create new rules on things like intellectual property, state-owned enterprises and lifting tariffs on protected sectors.
Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang said: “I won't characterise the positions as being far apart. We have made substantial progress. And we think we should be able to do the final stages over the next few weeks and months.
“I’m not saying the deal is done. We still have substantial work.”
Dr Deborah Elms, a professor at Nanyang Technological University, said part of that work is going to be deciding which issues countries are willing to budge on.
“When they go home they have to discuss with their leadership cabinets -- what do we need to do? Where do we have wiggle room?
“And really, where do we need to stick to our guns and say "no we actually cannot move on this or that issue?,” said Dr Elms.
No new timeline has been set to reach a final deal, but the ministers will meet again next month to work on the remaining issues.
Some analysts anticipate a sealed deal sometime in March, and once that happens, ministers will have to go home and sell the idea to their respective countries.