Pacific Trade Ministers Aim to Seal TPP Trade Pact

According to the article (http://news.yahoo.com/pacific-trade-ministers-aim-seal-tpp-trade-pact-050700679–finance.html), top trade representatives of 12 Pacific Rim countries are hoping to finalize the TPP agreement this week following the failed negotiations that occurred in Hawaii earlier this year.

A handful of issues hindered the talks in Hawaii, including US treatment of Japanese auto-parts, the length of patent protections for biologic drugs, and open markets for dairy products from major producers.

While prospects look good that the deal could be sealed this week, nothing is certain. Vocal public groups are raising objection to several issues under discussion, and there have been multiple demonstrations protesting the TPP in both Canada and New Zealand.

Nonetheless, if a deal is struck, it could become a model for an even larger agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that Washington is negotiating with the European Union.

Five Questions about the Big TPP Negotiations

According to the article (http://www.ctvnews.ca/business/five-questions-about-the-big-tpp-negotiations-1.2587022), there are five key questions regarding what is at stake with the TPP agreement, as follows:

  1. Would the TPP agreement eliminate NAFTA? No. NAFTA would continue to exist, but certain parts would be superseded by the new agreement.
  2. What will happen to Canada’s auto sector? It depends on who you ask. Some auto-parts companies are solidly in support of the new deal, while some are adamantly against it.
  3. Will there be more imports of foreign dairy? Almost certainly. According to some sources, the U.S. has requested and opening of the Canadian dairy market greater than the 2% share that they granted to Europe in the Canada-EU deal.
  4. Will drug prices go up? Possibly. The U.S. is demanding greater protection for pharmaceutical companies as well as longer exclusivity for cutting-edge medical treatments, which could increase prices.
  5. Could this affect Canada’s election? Absolutely. The race is a nail-biter, and depending on how successful the industries affected by the TPP are, the election could go either way.

Froman Says US Won’t Rush TPP Deal

According to the article, (http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-trade/2015/09/pro-morning-trade-behsudi-210439), although US trade officials have been talking up the benefits of the proposed TPP agreement while it is still incomplete, they are also adamant that they will not rush to get the pact done at the expense of its benefits. “The president has made clear that he will only accept a TPP agreement that delivers for middle-class families, supports American jobs and furthers our national security,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said in a statement to POLITICO Pro. “The substance of the negotiations will drive the timeline for completion, not the other way around.”

While there are several issues that have yet to be resolved, they are very doable with a little bit of compromise. One tough issue that still needs to be resolved before a deal is reached is how long countries will be required to protect test data for biologic medicines. Another issue involves sorting out rules for the auto-parts industry and clinching a deal that benefits all partners in the TPP. Finally, the Canadian dairy industry would like a deal that will put them on equal footing with growing Asia-Pacific markets.

New Signs of TPP Dairy Movement

According to the article (http://m.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11520114), there are reported signs of a deal coming together on access to dairy products in North America ahead of trade talks happening this week in Atlanta, Georgia. Reports over the weekend suggest that, despite protests from the dairy sector in both the US and Canada, both countries are preparing to move on their highly protected markets.

According to several news outlets, the US is signaling willingness to open its dairy market to some extent for imports from New Zealand and Australia.  The US National Milk Producers Federation and Dairy Export Council are expressing alarm at this, fearful that without sufficiently consulting the US industry they will potentially open the US market to Canadian imports without a reciprocal ability for US dairy producers to enter the Canadian market. “Tariff elimination on key products without reciprocal treatment by Canada would seriously undermine the US dairy economy,” the two organizations said in a joint statement.

Thailand’s Bid for the TPP – Time for Trade, or Trade for Time?

According to the article (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/09/28/ontario-quebec-agriculture-ministers-to-shadow-feds-during-key-tpp-talks_n_8210684.html), the Thai government, under Yingluck Shinawatra, announced an interest in joining the TPP in 2012, however the interest was lost under their current military dictatorship. However, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister, Somkid Jatusripitak, has recently indicated that they are now interested in joining the TPP.

Although Thailand claims that by joining the TPP their membership would help put the Kingdom back on the trade bloc’s radar, this could be a ploy to wind its way into the good graces of its neighbors as well as the United States.

Two key events have contributed toward Thailand’s newfound embrace of the TPP: the July release of the US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report and the deadly Erawan shrine bombings. Both of these events not only forced Thailand’s human rights situation into the open, but made it front page news as well. Therefore, the timing of Thailand’s sudden interest in joining the TPP is convenient and somewhat suspicious. Serious questions are now being raised regarding whether Thailand’s alleged commitment to democratic reforms is legitimate, or if it is merely a way to get back into the world’s good graces.

Trans-Pacific Partnership: It’s Not Just About Chickens and Milk

This article (http://globalnews.ca/news/2244890/trans-pacific-partnership-its-not-just-about-chickens-and-milk/) outlines what the TPP is, why it matters, and what the federal parties are saying about it.

First, the TPP has been in the works for nearly a decade, and will touch on a variety of matters related to the economic policy of twelve countries on four continents. When it is signed, the TPP’s members will account for 40% of global GDP.

The TPP has been particularly contentious in Canada, one of its potential members, because it could mean an end of supply management in their dairy and poultry industries, which restricts the amount of milk, cheese, eggs, and poultry that farmers are permitted to produce. Although Canada has been repeatedly reassured that their supply management will survive, Canada is apprehensive to agree to the deal. However, there is evidence that if Canada does not relax its stance on the issue, they may be excluded from the TPP.

Additionally, the auto sector is bracing for possible changes that may come with the TPP. In particular, Japan has been pushing for more lenient rules to allow Japanese-made vehicles into North America duty-free, with fewer Canadian-made parts.

Furthermore, the TPP could give internet service providers new power to disable or block websites that violate copyright laws. It may also bring an end to rules that block cross-border transfers of data via the internet, or require sensitive personal data to be stored on servers within national borders.

Finally, signing the TPP will likely require multiple concessions from Canada, but conservatives argue that it will open up numerous foreign markets in which Canada had not previously been able to invest or export. The conservative party has relentlessly defended Canada’s participation in the deal, but could lose traction in its re-election campaign if the final TPP agreement hurts the dairy, poultry, or manufacturing industries.

Conservatives Line Up Support from Auto-Parts Makers for TPP Deal

According to the article (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/conservatives-line-up-auto-support-for-tpp-deal/article26579770/), governing conservatives are working to identify and galvanize public support for the TPP deal, and by doing so counteract what they consider to be excessively negative statements regarding the impact of the deal.

They have lined up support from big auto-parts makers, exposing a split in the industry’s stance on the deal. While the deal could cause a loss of 80,000 auto-parts manufacturing jobs in Canada, two major Canadian auto-parts makers (ranked the second and third largest in Canada by revenue) argue that the country has no choice but to accept the TPP trade pact. They say that the TPP could help them win more contracts abroad, as it will open up foreign markets that they did not previously have access to.