TPP now CPTPP, core elements agreed on

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is back on, and has been renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Who the hell thought of that name? But it’s just a long winded name.

RNZ: TPP deal revived once more, 20 provisions suspended

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal remains on track to be agreed by the eleven nations involved.

It has been a tumultuous couple of days for ministers and trade negotiators at Da Nang in Vietnam: 24 hours ago, the deal looked close to collapse, after Canada’s representatives failed to show for a meeting.

A key concern from Canada was reported to be that Malaysia and Vietnam wanted to opt out of requirements for fair workplace laws, including the elimination of child and forced labour.

Speaking to reporters late last night, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there was “still more important work to be done to ensure we reach the best deal for Canada and Canadian people”.

Everyone wants the best deal for their own countries and people, but they will only reach agreement by compromising.

But more high-pressure talks have brought agreement – in principle – on the “core elements” of a deal.

The officials did it by suspending 20 provisions of the original TPP, some of which related to protecting labour rights and the environment, although most dealt with intellectual property.

Stuff: Renamed TPP ‘a damned sight better’, could be in place in a few months

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made it clear on Saturday that concessions won, particularly on controversial investor-state disputes settlement clauses, had cleared the way for New Zealand to sign.

“This is not a perfect agreement but it is a damned sight better than what we had when we started,’ she told reporters after the leaders’ retreat at the Apec summit in Da Nang, Vietnam.

“It is not perfect, no free trade agreement is. But it’s a lot better than where we were three weeks ago.”

That will please some  but others will never be happy with any trade agreement.

Trade ministers, including New Zealand’s David Parker, issued a statement acknowledging agreement on the core elements of the CPTPP.

They also released a list of “suspended issues”, which were essentially those that had been important to the US.

They can now only be written back into the deal by negotiation – and only by consensus of all the parties – if the US seeks to rejoin, perhaps in the post-President Donald Trump era.

That’s at least three years off. There’s obviously no need for US specific clauses.

That, in theory, means New Zealand can prevent the suspended changes to the ISDS regime from re-entering the agreement.

“If America comes in, it’s not an automatic lifting of those suspended provision … we worked hard to have lifted,” Ardern said.

The agreement would now be taken back to a select committee for the public and Parliament to assess it.

It will be interesting to see how much it is protested this time.

Ardern said New Zealand negotiators had worked hard on the ISDS clauses, which allow corporations to take legal action against host countries in special tribunals.

They have been narrowed in three areas:

* First, they no longer apply to investor screening, so decisions made under the Overseas Investment Act regime, administered by the Overseas Investment office, could not be challenged. Ardern said that was perhaps the most important change.
* Second, anyone who takes up a contract with the government would no longer be able to sue through ISDS provisions but must instead use domestic procedures.
* The third change related to financial services.

Also, a side letter with Australia has ruled out the use of ISDS provisions between the two countries, meaning ISDS does not apply to 80 per cent of foreign direct investment from TPP nations.

A “handful” of other countries have agreed in principle to ISDS side letters. but Ardern said she could not disclose them now.

Ardern said the ISDS provisions in the CPTPP were now similar to previous trade agreements New Zealand has signed, such as with China and Malaysia.

New Zealand had wanted to go further, but she regarded the progress over just a few weeks since she came to office as “a good outcome”.

But New Zealand had now put a line in the sand.

“We will not sign up to future agreements that include those clauses.”

Other suspensions in the new CPTPP included to copyright provisions. The US had achieved a “life plus 70 years” rule, but that would now drop back to the current “life plus 50 years”. That was worth $50 million to $55m a year to New Zealand.

Also, disclosure and administratives rules imposed on drug buying agency Pharmac would now be suspended, which would have cost $5.5m up-front and $2.5m a year.

The remaining hurdles to all 11 CPTPP nations are four outstanding issues, on which negotiation was still required.

They included how long Vietnam had to meet certain labour standards, and the time when Brunei and Malaysia will make changes to restrictions in their oil and gas industries.

The fourth issue applies to Canada, which is arguing for a “culture” carve out – essentially so it can offer bigger subsidies for French-language programming. New Zealand was a supporter of Canada on that issue.

So the CPTPP could take a while yet but looks back on track.

A fresh approach to negotiations with new leadership may have been a good thing for New Zealand.

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17 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  November 12, 2017

    ‘That will please some but others will never be happy with any trade agreement’…some will see that its not a ‘TRADE’ AGREEMENT..even the old name and the new name…reflect this.

    • Trade is it’s primary purpose. That’s why New Zealand’s Minister of Trade is leading our negotiations, also Canada’s and Australia’s and Japan’s…

      Trade ministers from 11 Pacific Rim countries announced an agreement Saturday on pushing ahead with a free-trade deal whose destiny was uncertain after U.S. President Donald Trump dropped it.

      The 11 counties remaining in the trade pact rejected by Trump in January have been working to revise the deal to allow them to proceed without U.S. involvement.

      https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/11/11/business/economy-business/eleven-trade-ministers-reach-deal-tpp-without-u-s/

    • A joint statement issued by the 21 APEC countries…

      “We will work together to make trade more inclusive, support improved market access opportunities, and address unfair trade practices. We urgently call for the removal of market-distorting subsidies and other types of support by governments and related entities.”

      Earlier in the week, trade and foreign ministers wrangled over the language to be used in APEC statements. Officials said the 20 other countries had been pitted against a U.S. push to change the traditional wording.

      Those countries still managed to ensure references to pushing for free trade and fighting protectionism – core reasons for APEC’s founding in 1989 – made it into the final statement.

      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-apec-summit/asia-pacific-leaders-say-to-fight-unfair-trade-in-nod-to-trump-idUSKBN1DA2MW

  2. Blazer

     /  November 12, 2017

    what was it again..30 chapters,with 6 about..trade.

    • Corky

       /  November 12, 2017

      Be strong, Blazer. I’m sure Jacinda knows what she’ll sign away.Your sovereignty. But hey, what the hell! Ultimately, the world, just like in the Sci-Fis, will be run by a major corporation(s). The UN realise that, hence their push to be top dog before any coroporation gains a major gobal advantage.

      • Blazer

         /  November 12, 2017

        one small consolation,the deal will be light years better than master negotiator..Tim the ‘ratman’ Groser ..made.They should pull that mug back from Washington too.Wasted enough on one bloke.

    • artcroft

       /  November 12, 2017

      Says the guy whose never read it.

      • Blazer

         /  November 12, 2017

        and you have read it ,of course,the whole 30 chapters before..breakfast.

  3. artcroft

     /  November 12, 2017

    Is there the possibility that China will join? If so what effect will that have on the US seeing as they would be locked out of what would be the worlds largest trade agreement.

  4. Gezza

     /  November 12, 2017

    It’s a heavy responsibilidy this business, & The New Queen seems to have carried it well.
    Next up in her pryorridees in ineqalidy.

  5. NOEL

     /  November 12, 2017

    Canadian perspective.
    ww.cbc.ca/news/politics/tpp-apec-summit-talks-1.4396984

    • Gezza

       /  November 12, 2017

      Cheers Noel, quite informative.

      • NOEL

         /  November 12, 2017

        Thanks, I’m guessing the culture bit will allow the Waitangi Treaty to maintain it’s place.
        From memory this was a major issue for many protestors.