This is the 4th round of TPP negotiations. It follows rounds in Melbourne, San Francisco and Brunei. Good progress has been made in those earlier rounds. Five further rounds are scheduled for 2011.
The goal for the Auckland round is to make maximum progress on substance. In most areas negotiators are now working on text. The aim is to finish the week with well developed text in most areas and to start removing brackets wherever possible.
Delegations began arriving over the weekend. Some had bilateral contacts yesterday.
There was a preliminary meeting of chief negotiators late Sunday mainly to focus on process for the week. They talked about programme and arrangements.
Hon Murray McCully, who is Acting Minister of Trade this week, dropped in to meet the group and say a few words on Sunday afternoon. He noted the current level of interest in TPP and emphasised New Zealand’s determination, as host, to achieve maximum progress from the Auckland round. He also highlighted the importance of quality and ambition. Chief negotiators noted the call from TPP Leaders to conclude an ambitious agreement as soon as possible - one that addresses new and emerging trade issues and the 21st century challenges their businesses and workers face.
Today there was an opening plenary meeting. This was the first occasion to welcome Viet Nam since the announcement in Yokohama confirming Viet Nam’s full participation in the negotiation. This was also the first occasion for Malaysia, as the newest member, to be present for the negotiations from the beginning of the week.
The substantive programme today opened with a session on the so-called ‘horizontal issues’ in which there were presentations from three invited business representatives on the importance of the regulatory agenda. There will be follow-on sessions over the next few days looking at specific horizontal issues such as SMEs, supply chains and regulatory coherence.
This afternoon the main negotiating programme gets under way with working groups meeting on the following issues:
One of the features of the TPP process has been the level of stakeholder engagement. We have over 100 stakeholders registered for Auckland. We have put a lot of effort into organising opportunities for engagement between stakeholders and negotiators. In Auckland there is a programme of stakeholder presentations to negotiators running each day. At 3pm today, stakeholders will also hold a media conference.
On Monday evening, a reception hosted by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise chairman Jon Mayson provided an opportunity for over 400 delegates and stakeholders to exchange views on issues in play in TPP negotiations.
Work continued on Tuesday in the following working groups:
Horizontal issues include considerations such as how to assist the creation of efficient supply chains and how to create consistent and compatible regulations for ease of trade. These issues are not about removing regulations but about making them more effective.
Two sessions have now been held on the ‘horizontal issues’. The first focused on what a TPP agreement could do to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) trading in the nine Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) markets. Presentations were made at this session by Justin Hygate of the New Zealand Companies Office and Kimberley Benson of Cange International of San Diego, USA, an export assistance company for SMEs.
The second session addressed competitiveness and global supply chains, with a focus on the ease of doing business. This session featured a presentation from Paul DeLaney, of FedEx, USA.
The stakeholder programme continued on Tuesday with a presentation from the NZ Council of Trade Unions on labour provisions attached to FTAs.
Work continued on:
The working groups on business mobility, customs, cooperation and capability building, financial services, intellectual property, labour, legal and institutional provisions, and technical barriers to trade, completed their work for the week and reported back to chief negotiators. The goods group working group reported to chief negotiators on some aspects but is continuing its work.
Work began in the investment working group.
This morning the horizontal issues¹ group focused on regulatory coherence. There were presentations from Sean Heather of the US Chamber of Commerce, Andrew Ethell of Toll Holdings, Australia, Faye Summer of the Medical Technology Association of New Zealand, John Barker of New Zealand Winegrowers and Ken Geard of the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand.
The horizontal working group considered development issues in the afternoon.
Stakeholders gave lunchtime presentations on data protection, medical technology and geographical indications (a form of intellectual property).
Working groups met today on:
We’ve had report-backs from the goods group (including agriculture), financial services, intellectual property, technical barriers to trade, labour, telecommunications, electronic commerce and trade remedies. Work in these groups is at different stages but there has been good engagement in all areas.
The final session of the horizontal¹ issues programme focused on development. We had a report back from the horizontal issues working group. There has been good progress in understanding, and in developing, this area of policy.
Stakeholders gave a lunchtime presentation on new issues in the environment.
¹ The ‘horizontal’ agenda addresses such questions as how to assist the creation of efficient supply chains and how to create consistent and compatible regulations for ease of trade.
Working groups have been meeting today on:
These groups will complete their work and report to chief negotiators at the end of the day.
Auckland has been something of a transitional round as negotiators in most areas have been assembling proposals and attempting to complete draft text that captures the positions of all the countries at the table. These drafts will be the raw material for the shift into a more intense negotiating phase that gets underway in 2011.
While there are still diverse positions on many issues across the agenda, good progress has been made in Auckland in developing and refining texts and improving understanding of the underlying policy issues.
A feature of the week’s work has been the progress made on ‘horizontal issues’ – a set of issues that lie at the heart of the group’s goal of making TPP an effective platform for regional integration. There has been strong technical input from industry experts on what a TPP agreement should offer to small and medium enterprises wanting to be part of the regional marketplace and from suppliers wanting to be niche suppliers in a regional production or supply chain. This technical input from industry has also included some ideas on what TPP negotiations should be doing to improve coherence across the negotiating agenda. The plan is to take this conceptual discussion into a more practical format at future rounds.
Over the week, there has been a high level of interest from stakeholders. The stakeholders’ programme that has been operating alongside the negotiations throughout the week has provided opportunities for engagement with negotiators across issues as diverse as the depletion of fisheries resources, illegal logging, trade in environmental goods and services, geographical indications (a form of intellectual property), labour provisions in trade agreements, key issues for services trade, development goals and investment regulation. Over 100 stakeholders participated in this programme during the course of the week.
The New Zealand negotiating team will be assessing the results of the Auckland round in coming weeks and looking ahead to preparations for next year. In light of the high level of public and stakeholder interest evident in Auckland, part of that review will involve the question of consultative process for key issues in the TPP negotiating agenda for 2011. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (MFAT) team would welcome further input from stakeholders on this point. This can be made either direct to team members or through MFAT’s website.