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Professor Jane Kelsey. Professor Jane Kelsey.[/caption]

Trade ministers desperate to conclude a  Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) at their meeting in Atlanta have extended the conclusion of their talks for another day, according to Professor Jane Kelsey who is in monitoring the negotiations.

Time is running out. They have one more day before the major players from the US, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Australia leave for the G-20 ministerial meeting in Istanbul that starts on Monday.

According to Professor Kelsey, the sticking points are still the pharmaceutical industry’s monopoly over biologics medicines and market access for dairy. The autos issue seems to have subsided.

On biologics, the US and Australia have worked overnight to find words that would allow countries to provide 5 rather than 8 years monopoly protection. The US was originally demanding 12 years. Even the compromise being sought would have major impacts on five countries that currently do not cover biologics in their domestic laws.

NOTE: US and Australian negotiators have been seeking a compromise over the wording on biologics but have not formally agreed on such wording. Nor has any wording been put to the other 10 parties to the TPP negotiations.

But Professor Kelsey warns that a ‘final’ TPPA that assumes any compromise wording would survive the US political process could be built on sand, as the US could still demand a longer term as a quid pro quo for making concessions on other areas.

Allowing countries to keep their current 5 years would have to pass the scrutiny of the US Congress and, more significantly, the process whereby the US certifies the other country has complied with the US understanding of its obligations under agreement. Professor Kelsey observed that ‘any flexibility given to New Zealand on biologics to allow us to keep our current 5 years of data exclusivity could prove an illusion at that final hurdle.’ 

As for dairy, the chess game remains much the same: what Canada and Japan have given the US is not enough to satisfy the US industry that it can compensate for increased market access to New Zealand.




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