Update on the fourth round of Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) negotiations
The fourth round of TPP negotiations was held in Auckland from 6-10 December 2010, with the nine TPP Parties (Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, Vietnam) continuing to make steady progress across the full range of issues under discussion.
TPP Parties welcomed Vietnam's participation in its first round as a full TPP member. This followed Vietnam's announcement in the margins of the APEC Leaders Meeting in Yokohama in November 2010 that it had completed the necessary domestic processes to move from associate member to full member status in the negotiations.
In line with TPP Leaders' instructions to conclude negotiations as swiftly as possible, negotiators pressed ahead with work in 24 negotiating groups covering issues such as goods, services, investment, intellectual property, government procurement, competition, standards, financial services, capacity building, labour and environment. Good progress was made, with most working groups advancing work on draft texts.
Officials also finalised preparations for the exchange of initial market access offers on goods, which is scheduled to take place in January 2011. Negotiators also made headway towards exchanging initial services and investment offers in March 2011. This will allow maximum progress on the Agreement to be achieved by the time of APEC Leaders' Meeting in Honolulu in November 2011.
In addition, TPP Parties advanced discussions on the cross-cutting, 21st century issues that are being explored in the negotiations, such as:
- promoting regional integration in the Asia-Pacific, e.g. through considering how the TPP could best support and facilitate efficient supply chains for business;
- increasing the compatibility and coherence of TPP regulatory systems so that businesses can operate more seamlessly in TPP markets, e.g. by exploring how it may be possible to support work towards mutual recognition of standards or qualifications where appropriate;
- creating a 'living agreement' which adapts to changing business needs and can accommodate new TPP members over time; and
- supporting development, including through appropriate and ongoing technical assistance and capacity building.
There was a high level of interest from stakeholders in the negotiations, with more than 100 representatives from business groups, NGOs and academics from TPP countries attending a stakeholder program that ran parallel to the negotiations. The ongoing engagement with stakeholders continues to provide valuable input to the negotiations.
We welcome the input of Australian stakeholders that were able to travel to Auckland and those of you who participated in the most recent set of public consultations on the TPP in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as by teleconference with other capital cities. We continue to encourage further input, particularly as we move into initial market access negotiations on goods, services and investment. Australia is working to secure a truly regional agreement with the highest level of ambition for trade liberalisation, including the elimination of tariffs and minimising restrictions on foreign investment and foreign services suppliers.
The next round of TPP negotiations is scheduled for 14-18 February 2011 in Santiago, Chile. We continue to welcome written submissions at any time on issues relevant to the negotiation, and are interested to talk with companies or individuals regarding any specific market access restrictions or obstacles you face in TPP countries. To make submissions or appointments, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org