Pacific Rim countries fail to agree on TPP deal

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement stalls due to disputes over dairy trade, car market and protection of drug manufacturers

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Pacific Rim countries fail to agree on TPP deal

Updated Feb 18, 2016

Although the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a Pacific Rim free trade agreement, was set to be signed on Friday, the signing of the deal was stalled after various disputes emerged between the twelve countries party to the agreement over their dairy and car sectors as well as exclusivity periods for manufactured drugs.

Six hundred and fifty government officials from the twelve countries, lobby groups and stakeholders gathered in the Hawaiian island of Maui in order to reach a final agreement on the TPP, which aims to lift trade barriers and set a common standard in international trade between countries comprising 40 percent of the world economy.

After the talks ended, US Trade Representative Michael Froman organised a press conference stressing the significant progress made, saying, "after more than a week of productive meetings we've made significant progress and will continue on resolving a limited number of remaining issues, paving the way for the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations."

Although Froman said another meeting will be organised shortly, he did not hint at a specific date.

After four-day-long discussions, the Pacific Rim countries failed to compromise over dairy and drug market disputes. New Zealand demanded the opening up of dairy markets internationally in the United States, Japan, Canada and Mexico.

The world’s largest dairy exporter is New Zealand’s Fonterra company, which has led the country to strongly push for the liberalisation of world dairy markets.

Delegations also failed to agree on the periods for protection of biologic drugs’ formulas.

US pharmaceutical companies demanded a 12-year waiting period on the distribution of drug formulas, while Australia requested a five-year period and Chile objected to any such period.

Chilean vice Minister for Trade. Andres Rebolledo. stressed the importance of resolving the issue for reaching an agreement over the TPP and said that "for us it's vital to have an agreement that balances public policy goals for intellectual property in medicines."

Mexico and Japan also had a minor disagreement during the discussions concerning the production of cars. Although Japan and the US agreed on the export of cars without taxation, Canada and Mexico objected to this.

Talks to make the TPP a reality have been ongoing for eight years between the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

TRTWorld and agencies