No deal after latest round of TPP talks
After a four-day meeting in Singapore, representatives from the 12 countries represented under the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership say they have made “further strides” toward the agreement, but came away from the meeting without a deal.
“We have agreed on the majority of the landing zones identified at our last meeting,” according to a joint statement by the delegation. “While some issues remain, we have charted a path forward to resolve them in the context of a comprehensive and balanced outcome.”
The delegation includes representatives from Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
The parties involved had hoped to reach an agreement by the end of 2013. On Dec. 10, after the conclusion of a four-day meeting in Singapore during which the parties said they “made substantial progress,” those involved committed themselves to “intensive work in the coming weeks toward such an agreement.”
In this most recent round of talks, the parties focused on market access issues, which, according to the release, “is an important part of our remaining work, and we will continue working toward completion of an ambitious package across all market access areas.”
In the statement, the parties said they are working toward completing an agreement “as soon as possible.” The parties first outlined the framework for the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2011.
Ilana Solomon, who runs the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program, said the parties can’t come to terms on “common-sense provisions,” so it’s not a big surprise that an agreement hasn’t been reached. The Sierra Club is concerned about what it sees is a weakened environmental outlook.
"Recently leaked documents show us that the trade deal falls flat on conservation issues like illegal logging, shark finning, and overfishing, and that the U.S. is pushing to weaken rules related to climate disruption and biodiversity,” Solomon said. “Moreover, other parts of the pact stand to severely threaten our environment and climate by giving foreign corporations the power to challenge local safeguards that protect public health and reducing oversight of natural gas exports.
In a speech Feb. 18 at the Center for American Progress, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the U.S. is committed to an “aggressive” trade strategy. He said that passing TPP is important for the nation’s trade goals.
“At the end of the day, we need to assess what the world will look like with and without TPP," he said. “The world without TPP is a world with lower labor standards, weaker environmental protections and fewer opportunities for job growth in the U.S. In my view, a world with TPP is a world that is in the interest of America’s workers and America’s families."