Source: Professor Jane Kelsey.
‘The reported cancellation of the planned meeting of the twelve trade ministers in Guam, billed as an “endgame” for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), is another nail in the coffin of a deal that has been on life support for several years’, says University of Auckland Professor Jane Kelsey.
Japanese media have quoted government officials saying the meeting scheduled for 26 to 28 May will not proceed and their delegation has cancelled its reservation, although there has been no formal statement to that effect.
Professor Kelsey called for Trade Minister Tim Groser to confirm the situation and what will now happen to the troubled negotiations.
‘The two massive obstacles to the conclusion of this deal have become inter-twined.’
‘Until recently, the talks had been stalled because the two elephants in the room, the US and Japan, could not reach their own special deal on agriculture and automobiles.’
In the last few months several governments have also made it clear that they will not make political trade offs unless President Obama has Fast Track authority, curtailing the powers of Congress over the deal.
The long delay in even putting the Fast Track Bill before Congress showed Obama did not believe he had the numbers. Despite stop-start attempts to advance the Bill in the US Senate over the past two weeks, the vast majority of Democrats, especially in the House, and many Republicans are vehemently opposed.
‘New Zealand’s Trade Minister Groser said, for some unfathomable reason, that New Zealand would be prepared to make a political deal without Fast Track’, Professor Kelsey noted.
‘But the Japanese have point blank refused to do so. Their Economy Minister Akira Amari said two days ago that there will no final TPPA without Fast Track, making it “extremely difficulty” to proceed with the ministerial.’
‘The talks have now reached stalemate. TPPA ministers are bound to meet on the margins of APEC in the Philippines this weekend. Hopefully they will do a hard-nosed reality check’ Kelsey said.
‘After five years of vast expense of taxpayers’ money, and wasted energies of negotiators and ministers, it is time to stop pouring good money after bad and put the TPPA out of its misery.’