Trade ministers and negotiators from the twelve countries supposed to be involved in the world’s largest economic agreement have apparently deadlocked on a couple of issues during talks that continued into the early hours on Saturday, according to multiple reports citing sources aware of the talks. The deal reportedly stalled in two points: auto and dairy trade.
However, most of the ministers seemed to display optimism regarding a deal being reached in the near future. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman read a statement endorsed by all parties stating that future discussion, while not yet set, have been agreed to by representatives of all countries. He also added that a number of past issues have been resolved at the Hawaii talks, such as trade protection for local gastronomic specialties.
New Zealand’s trade minister, Tim Groser, was of the same mindset while pointing out that the biggest problem for his country was dairy trade regulations: New Zealand and Australia are pushing for more access to the North American dairy market, which is reportedly opposed by Canada. Meanwhile, Mexico’s Minister of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo said that pharmaceutical trade was another of the hot issues, with the U.S. reportedly seeking to make life easier for its big pharma corporations when it comes to exporting their products.
The twelve ministers and hundreds of negotiators have been holding the talks at a hotel in Maui since Tuesday. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would disable certain trade tarrifs and protectionist policies between the involved countries – the United States, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Japan, Brunei, New Zealand, Vietnam, Singapore, Chile, Mexico and Vietnam – which together form more than 40 per cent of the world’s economy. It would also set in place standardized and common trade rules, making foreign trade and investment between the countries easier.
However, the United States’ participation in the deal is uncertain if no agreement is reached before 2016, as a republican win in next year’s presidential elections would give them all the necessary tools for withdrawing from the agreement. The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been criticized by republicans and even a significant part of the Democratic Party who consider that it is actually detrimental to low-tier workers and companies, while only being lucrative for big companies and corporations.
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