Outlook Mixed After TPP Talks End

- VOA News Steve Herman,August 4, 2015

There was no consensus Monday on how soon talks to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact could be revived after the 12 parties failed to reach a deal at what was intended to be the concluding round last week in Hawaii.

“The timing really is a challenge at this point, really driven by electoral politics,” Asia Trade Center executive director Deborah Elms told VOA via Skype.

A Canadian general election is scheduled for October 19 and campaigning began Sunday.

For the Canadians “to make a concession on dairy this close to the election I think is going to be even harder,” Elms told VOA.

The U.S. presidential primaries begin in January 2016.

Due to legally binding Congressional rules on trade, even if the negotiators are able to reach agreement late this month, Elms predicts, via Skype, that would leave U.S. lawmakers only a handful of days before they leave for the Christmas recess.

“When they come back they are in full election mode and no one is going to want to vote on trade in an election cycle,” Elms said.

Another meeting scheduled

Australia's trade minister, Andrew Robb, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the TPP participants have agreed to meet again in a few weeks following the failure to cut a deal at the Hawaii talks he described as “pretty tension packed” with “a lot of anger at times.”

"I'm confident we will reach an agreement that's in the best interests of New Zealand in the coming weeks," Prime Minister John Key remarked at a news conference Monday following a Cabinet meeting in Wellington.

Japan's trade minister, Akira Amari, has told reporters he also wants to see fresh discussions by the end of this month.

Disagreements remain

Last week's negotiations became tangled, in particular, over the length of data protection to be granted to companies that develop pharmaceuticals and hold patents on them, according to Japan's largest circulation daily newspaper, the Yomiuri.

The Japanese newspaper, in an editorial calling for negotiations to resume promptly, placed some of the blame on the United States, home to many major pharmaceutical companies, for insisting on 12 years for data protection while Australia and New Zealand, eager to utilize generic drugs earlier, called for five years or fewer while Japan proposed a compromise at eight years.

Another issue stalling the secretive talks is in the automotive sector.

A late disagreement erupted between Mexico, an emerging automaker, and Japan, which sources parts from countries such as Thailand which are not a party to the TPP talks.

All of this leaves the process in “huge trouble,” according to Elms, unless the “stars align perfectly” to get a deal done this month then nothing is possible until 2017 when there “will be a whole set of new leaders around the table” and long after the current negotiators have quit.

The TPP participants represent 40 percent of global trade.

The countries in the negotiations have been Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

Other parties, Colombia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, since 2010, have announced their interest and could join a second wave of expansion if an initial deal is reached.

亚洲国家对TPP谈判反应不一

- 美国之音赫尔曼,2015年8月4日

12个参加跨太平洋伙伴关系贸易协定TPP谈判的国家上星期在预定的最后一轮谈判中未能达成一致。各国对何时能够重启谈判没有共识。

亚洲贸易中心执行董事埃尔姆斯告诉美国之音说:“现在,时机是个问题,一切都受选举政治的影响。”

加拿大10月19日举行大选,选战已于星期天打响。

埃尔姆斯说:“我认为,对加拿大人来说,在如此临近选举的时刻,要在乳制品问题上让步,会更加困难。”

美国总统初选将于2016年1月开始。

埃尔姆斯对记者说,鉴于美国国会具有法律效力的贸易规则,即使谈判代表本月晚些时候能够达成一致,美国议员在圣诞休会前也只有不多的几天时间审议这个问题了,“他们回来以后,将全力竞选,没有人会愿意在选举期间就贸易问题投票”。

TPP谈判代表将再次会晤

澳大利亚贸易部长罗布告诉澳大利亚广播公司,TPP谈判各方已经同意几个星期后再次会晤。罗布在谈到未能达成协议的夏威夷谈判时说:“气氛相当紧张”,“有时充满了愤怒”。

新西兰总理约翰·基星期一在惠灵顿的内阁会议后的记者会上说:“我相信几个星期后能够达成一项符合新西兰最佳利益的协议。”

日本经济产业大臣甘利明告诉记者,他也希望看到本月底展开新的讨论。

在若干议题上的分歧依然存在。


日本发行量最大的日报《读卖新闻》报道,上周的谈判更多是纠结在制药公司的专利数据保护期限上。

《读卖新闻》在一篇社论中呼吁迅速恢复谈判,并指责美国——这个许多大型药企业总部所在地——坚持12年的数据保护期。澳大利亚和新西兰急于生产非专利药,要求将保护期缩短为5年或更短。日本则提出了一个折衷的8年。

另一个拖延了这项秘密会谈的议题是在汽车行业。

稍后的一项分歧来自墨西哥和日本。墨西哥是新兴的汽车制造国,而日本的许多汽车零部件来自诸如泰国等非TPP谈判国。

埃尔姆斯说,所有这些都使谈判陷入了“巨大的麻烦”之中。他说,除非在这个月内大家“同心同德”达成一致,否则2017年之前不会有任何结果。到那时,现在的谈判者早已退出,“在谈判桌周围的将都是新的领导人”。

参加TPP谈判的国家有澳大利亚、文莱、加拿大、智利、日本、马来西亚、墨西哥、新西兰、秘鲁、新加坡、美国和越南,这些国家占全球贸易份额的40%。

2010年以来,哥伦比亚、菲律宾、韩国、台湾和泰国等国家和地区表示对TPP感兴趣,如果初步协议能够达成,他们可能加入第二轮扩展计划。