Pa­cific trade min­is­ters fail to reach deal in Hawaii

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY AU­DREY MCAVOY

Trade min­is­ters from a dozen Pa­cific Rim na­tions failed to reach a deal on a new trade agree­ment that would cover nearly 40 per­cent of the global econ­omy, U.S. Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Michael Fro­man said Fri­day.

Fro­man, read­ing from a state­ment on be­half of all of the min­is­ters, said the par­ties made sig­nif­i­cant progress and agreed to con­tinue their dis­cus­sions.

The coun­tries haven’t yet set a date yet for fu­ture talks. Fro­man said some is­sues were bi­lat­eral in na­ture, and some will in­volve groups. “I feel very grat­i­fied about the progress that’s been made and I am con­fi­dent that through our con­tin­ued in­ten­sive en­gage­ment that we’ll be able to tackle the re­main­ing is­sues suc­cess­fully,” Fro­man said in re­sponse to a re­porter’s ques­tion about whether he was dis­ap­pointed about the lack of a deal.

Ja­pan’s eco­nomic and fis­cal pol­icy min­is­ter, Akira Amari, said he thought a deal would be reached with one more meet­ing.

The min­is­ters, who have been meet­ing at a ho­tel on Maui’s Kaana­pali Beach since Tues­day, said in a joint state­ment they are more con­fi­dent than ever that an agree­ment is within reach to sup­port jobs and eco­nomic growth.

The Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship ne­go­ti­a­tions are aimed at eras­ing most tar­iffs and other bar­ri­ers to trade and in­vest­ment among par­tic­i­pants. It would also clar­ify and stan­dard­ize trade rules, mak­ing it eas­ier for com­pa­nies to sell goods and ser­vices in the Pa­cific Rim.

Dairy Is Key Is­sue: New Zealand

The wide-rang­ing dis­cus­sions have ad­dressed tar­iffs on autos, rice and dairy prod­ucts, as well as in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty pro­tec­tions for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

The talks have also cov­ered es­tab­lish­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions for par­tic­i­pant na­tions, which range from de­vel­op­ing coun­tries like Viet­nam to in­dus­trial pow­ers like Ja­pan.

U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has said a pact would boost U.S. eco­nomic growth and help keep high-qual­ity jobs in the coun­try by in­creas­ing ex­ports.

Crit­ics have com­plained that the deal is be­ing ne­go­ti­ated in se­cret and that it fa­vors multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions over work­ers and con­sumers.

New Zealand Trade Min­is­ter Tim Groser said to reach a com­pli­cated trade agree­ment, par­ties must slowly re­solve is­sues one by one un­til only one or two of the most dif­fi­cult ques­tions re­main. He said dairy — of which New Zealand is a ma­jor ex­porter — is one of these dif­fi­cult is­sues.

Groser didn’t pro­vide de­tails, in an ef­fort to avoid caus­ing prob­lems for his ne­go­ti­at­ing part­ners, but said the coun­tries have agreed to what he called “com­mer­cially mean­ing­ful ac­cess.” The def­i­ni­tion of what that means is be­ing ne­go­ti­ated, he said.

“I’m ex­tremely con­fi­dent that we will find that sweet spot and ad­vance the in­ter­ests of ef­fi­cient dairy ex­porters around the world, not just mine, and yet find a way of deal­ing with the po­lit­i­cal com­plex­i­ties for those of our friends around the ta­ble who are less com­pet­i­tive,” Groser said.

The pro­posed deal is a cen­tral el­e­ment of Obama’s ef­forts to boost U.S. in­flu­ence in Asia and to serve as an eco­nomic coun­ter­weight to China.

The U.S. came to the Maui round of ne­go­ti­a­tions strength­ened by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s suc­cess­ful leg­isla­tive fight win­ning fast-track ne­go­ti­at­ing au­thor­ity. This al­lows Congress to ap­prove or re­ject trade agree­ments, but not change or de­lay them.

The agree­ment was pro­posed by Chile, New Zealand and Sin­ga­pore in 2002, but Washington has taken the lead in pro­mot­ing it since join­ing the talks in 2008. Par­tic­i­pants in­clude the United States, Aus­tralia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Ja­pan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Sin­ga­pore and Viet­nam. China, the world’s sec­ond largest econ­omy af­ter the U.S., is not part of the talks. But there’s po­ten­tial it could join the pact later.

Bei­jing has been ne­go­ti­at­ing a sep­a­rate agree­ment with many of the same na­tions that’s called the Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship. This pact would cover 16 coun­tries, in­clud­ing the 10 mem­bers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions as well as Aus­tralia, In­dia, Ja­pan, South Korea and New Zealand.

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