With the text released the next hurdle for TPP is signature. This is set to happen sometime in early February. How and where the Agreement will be signed has yet to be determined but New Zealand, as Depositary has offered to host this event should there be an event.
Meanwhile Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Korea and Colombia have all publicly stated interest in acceding to the Agreement. We understand that Hong Kong has expressed interest in private also.
It is clear that new members cannot expect automatic entry without some form of re-negotiation of existing agreements. New Zealand has FTA linkages with all these TPP aspirants with the exception of Colombia. In that regard Colombian membership would be potentially a major new positive factor for New Zealand. New Zealand businesses dissatisfied with aspects of the FTAs with Korea, or AANZFTA as it relates to the Philippines and Indonesia might like to begin lobbying MFAT on improvements that they would like to see in access conditions for these markets should they formally seek TPP membership.
Officials were last week still hopeful that the FTA with Korea will come into force next month. Should this happen, Year 1 implementation commitments would kick in on 1 January so achieving a December entry into force would be a positive outcome.
NZ EU FTA
Strangely, opposition to the prospect of a FTA with the EU has been much more muted than the opposition to TPP – which was apparent from day one with that agreement. We wonder why?
There will possibly be some publicity associated with the WTO Ministerial meeting set to be held in Nairobi 15 to 18 December. We are not expecting much new from this meeting. The WTO will try and trumpet huge gains flowing from the Facilitation Agreement. We are skeptical that there will be any substantive gains, but is probably best to remain silent on this point. More interesting is whether members will do the right thing and formally end the Doha Round negotiations. Many members accept that this would be much better than carrying on the pretence that the negotiation might still achieve an outcome. But who wants to be the first to suggest this in public?