TPP – all eyes on Washington
It would appear that negotiators have done all that is possible at working level on TPP. The negotiation has moved into a political phase now but no one is prepared to reveal bottom lines or to engage in the horse trading necessary to conclude the negotiation without knowing whether the United States is able to deliver an outcome. For people to have confidence they want to see President Obama receive a negotiating authority. He, and his senior officials, say that they are close to putting a bill before Congress on this but this has still to happen, and time is running out.
There is reasonably strong support within the Republican Party for TPP and a negotiating authority. However, some on the far right of the Party don’t like the idea of giving Obama what they see as a blank cheque. Others are wondering whether there is political advantage to be had in 2016 by seeing TPP stall now. But the real problem is the President’s own Party. To secure negotiating authority the President needs somewhere between 20 to 30 Democrats to support him. No one is sure whether he can get so many supporters from his Party as all members are subject to an intense lobbying campaign by the unions and other vested interest groups.
Korea FTA Before Select Committee
Now that it has been signed full details of the Korea – New Zealand FTA are now available and it is before the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee as part of the Treaty Ratification process. Submissions close on 24 April. Export New Zealand will be presenting a submission in support of this agreement. We encourage those of you with interest in the Korea market, and who will benefit from this Agreement to also make a submission. Full details of the Agreement are available on the MFAT and Parliament websites or click here.
GCC – PM heading to the Gulf
We understand that Prime Minister will be heading to the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to advance New Zealand political and trade interests immediately after the 25 April commemorations at Gallipoli. It will be interesting whether this visit can unblock the stalled FTA negotiation.
A delegation of New Zealand officials, academics and business leaders, including Export New Zealand President Sir Ken Stevens attended a seminar with officials from the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico) in Lima, Peru in late March. There is clearly strong interest from the Alliance in closer relations between the Alliance and countries in the Asia Pacific – particularly New Zealand. This seminar allowed a useful exchange of views on how New Zealand has built its FTA network and how that Pacific Alliance countries might leverage this. The strong support for some form of association between the New Zealand and the Alliance from New Zealand business was seen as very significant by a number of Alliance officials.
New Ambassador to the EU
David Taylor, as former New Zealand Ambassador to Korea and Indonesia has been announced as the next New Zealand Ambassador to the EU. He will replace Ambassador Vangelis Vitalis who is expected to move on to become Ambassador to the WTO in Geneva. Landing the FTA negotiation with the EU will be the most important VPI for Ambassador Taylor.