TPP member legal teams have been locked away in a hotel at Narita airport trying to finalise the text of the agreement. Once it is finalised member countries will coordinate a time for simultaneous release of the text.
The sooner this happens the better as much of the controversy, caused in large part by the excessive secrecy of the negotiating process, will hopefully dissipate. Once released, the US is required by the negotiating authority to follow procedure which mean that it cannot be signed for at least 90 days. Only after it is signed can TPP begin the various ratification processes that will lead to it coming into effect.
For New Zealand it means that the Select Committee process will not begin until at least mid-February 2016.
In the case of the US it is hard to predict what will happen with regard to ratification. Two windows of opportunity are talked about for 2016.
One is May/June, after the Congressional primaries are held and candidates are selected but before the Party conventions that will confirm the Presidential candidates. The other is post Presidential election in what is known as the Presidential ‘Lame duck’ period. While both these timings are in theory possible, many observers in Washington DC are talking about
2017 as being more likely for ratification. This means that TPP may not come into effect until late that year or even early 2018.
Interestingly the material provided on TPP on the www.mfat.govt.nz is probably the most detailed being provided by any of the TPP participants.
The US, for example, won¹t even reveal the 30 Chapter headings. These have been on the MFAT site since the day negotiations were concluded.
We will provide a fuller assessment of the agreement once the text is made public.
My recent Op Ed can be found here.
EU FTA On The Cards?
The PM is going to be in Brussels at the end of the week and we are expecting the communique from this visit to take forward the possibility of a FTA negotiation between New Zealand and the EU in line with the revised EU trade strategy that was issued on 14 October. Click here to view.
This makes reference to the possibility of FTA negotiations with both New Zealand and Australia.
The EU has a set process for negotiating FTAs. This means that an actual negotiation is unlikely to start for 18 months to 2 years. Encouragingly the EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has said that she does not want the EU to start any new negotiations that cannot be finished.
Agriculture will be a difficult component to this negotiation but existing quota arrangements in the most sensitive product areas in some way make this a more straight forward negotiation than trying to negotiate with Canada, Japan and the US.
Global Services Summit
Business New Zealand was represented this year in Washington DC at the Global Services Summit. Topics included the TPP, TTIP (EU-US) and the TISA (WTO plurilateral Trade in Services Agreement). New Zealand is a participant in two of these three negotiations.
Interestingly the prospect of the EU-New Zealand FTA came up several times in discussion from EU speakers who see this as the EU’s first real opportunity to negotiate a ‘high, high quality’ FTA outcome on services.
Business New Zealand joining the peak services bodies from the EU, US, Australia, and Asia in issuing a communique on the global negotiating agenda. This is here..