TPP trade talks nar­row down to tough is­sues

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS -

Talks on the am­bi­tious Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship re­mained stuck on a hand­ful of tough is­sues in­clud­ing auto parts and drug pro­tec­tions as trade min­is­ters moved to a sec­ond day of ne­go­ti­a­tions Thurs­day.

Un­der heavy pres­sure to clinch a deal this week af­ter key dif­fer­ences couldn’t be bridged in their July meet­ing in Hawaii, top of­fi­cials from the United States, Ja­pan and 10 other Pa­cific Rim coun­tries were ne­go­ti­at­ing around the clock in this south­ern U.S. city.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the 12 coun­tries — Aus­tralia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Ja­pan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Sin­ga­pore, the United States and Viet­nam — were seek­ing to com­plete talks this week that would form the world’s largest free trade re­gion, its mem­bers com­pris­ing about 40 per­cent of the global econ­omy.

But ma­jor chal­lenges in three ar­eas re­mained, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials in­volved in the dis­cus­sions.

— Meet­ing pres­sure from Ja­pan to re­move U.S. bar­ri­ers on auto parts im­ported from non-TPP coun­tries, against re­sis­tance from Mexico and Canada, al­ready ma­jor fa­vored sup­pli­ers of parts to the U.S. auto in­dus­try un­der the NAFTA trade treaty.

— Open­ing up the Ja­panese, U.S. and Cana­dian mar­kets to ri­val dairy and pro­cessed dairy prod­ucts from New Zealand and Aus­tralia.

— Ex­tend­ing patent pro­tec­tion for in­creas­ingly im­por­tant biologic drugs to eight years, amid con­cerns this will raise the costs of the drugs and leave them less ac­ces­si­ble in poorer coun­tries.

At the end of the first day of min­is­te­rial talks, ne­go­tia­tors re­mained mum about the progress on these key is­sues amid hope that an agree­ment could be reached.

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