Negotiators Cite Progress in Trans-Pacific Trade Pact Talks

When Japan joins the talks, Trans-Pacific Partnership countries will account for nearly 40 percent of global gross domestic product and about one-third of all world trade.
When Japan joins the talks, Trans-Pacific Partnership countries will account for nearly 40 percent of global gross domestic product and about one-third of all world trade.

Washington,
May 28, 2013

During the 17th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, which ended May 24 in Lima, Peru, officials reported they continued to forge ahead toward their goal of concluding an ambitious 21st-century agreement in the time frame envisioned by President Obama and the leaders of the other 10 TPP countries.

Through the TPP, the United States is seeking to advance a next-generation trade and investment agreement that will enhance competitiveness and expand trade in the Asia-Pacific region, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said.

In their work during this 10-day round, negotiators were guided by the plan of action agreed by the trade ministers from the United States and the other TPP countries — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam — when they met in April on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Surabaya, Indonesia.

In line with that plan and the direction of ministers to find pragmatic solutions to outstanding issues, the negotiators made progress across the agreement, USTR said. The negotiating groups covering services, government procurement, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, trade remedies, labor, and dispute settlement moved their work forward significantly, USTR said. The TPP countries also successfully advanced work on the other legal texts, including technical barriers to trade, e-commerce, rules of origin, investment, financial services, intellectual property, transparency, competition, environment and other issues.

On “the more challenging issues” of intellectual property, competition, and environment, negotiators had productive discussions and agreed on next steps to continue their work, according to USTR.

In addition, negotiators made further progress on building the comprehensive packages that will provide access to their respective markets for industrial, agricultural and textile and apparel products, services and investment, and government procurement. They moved forward in constructing tariff packages and rules of origin, reflecting input from stakeholders on how best to promote trade and regional integration that would benefit companies and workers in the United States and the other TPP countries, USTR said.

The 11 TPP countries also discussed plans for smoothly integrating Japan into the TPP negotiations. Japan will join the negotiations following the successful completion of current members’ respective domestic processes. With Japan’s entry, TPP countries will account for nearly 40 percent of global gross domestic product and about one-third of all world trade, USTR said.

On May 19, the TPP negotiations were temporarily suspended so negotiators could meet with 300 stakeholders from the TPP countries. Stakeholders presented views to negotiators on a wide range of issues under discussion, and met informally with U.S. and other negotiators to provide further input to them, USTR said.

Ministers from the TPP countries will continue to engage regularly over the coming months to guide the negotiators’ work, find solutions to outstanding sensitive issues and ensure that the talks achieve the TPP leaders’ objective of a high-quality, ambitious and comprehensive agreement in 2013.

The 18th round of TPP negotiations will be held in Malaysia, July 15–25.