The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will carry on to other destinations in the Asia Pacific as soon as negotiations are completed, New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser said.
Groser, during a business luncheon on Friday, said the “TPP is now at a crucial stage.”
TPP is an international trade agreement that is currently being negotiated by 12 countries, including New Zealand.
“Though TPP may yet still stumble if Governments finally lack the courage to take the final decisive decisions to confront their highly protected sectors, there is every reason to believe TPP will be the decisive influence in creating the entire FTAAP or Free Trade Area in the Asia Pacific,” he said.
He said the negotiations have been divided into two parts. The first deals with rules designed to match the realities of the 21st century while the second is about market access.
“They are inextricably linked—we cannot sign off 21st century rules and ignore 20th century unresolved market access issues, of which deep pockets of high protection in agriculture (negotiators call this ‘tariff peaks’) are unaddressed,” he said.
Moreover, he said the negotiations on rules are extremely advanced.
“The rules negotiations cover matters such as Intellectual Property, E-Commerce, new rules for State Owned Enterprises, Competition Policy, Government Procurement, and the Movement of Business People as part of a Services outcome,” he said.
When it comes to the move by the Philippines to seriously study its inclusion in the TPP, Groser said the country is on the right track.
The TPP is the Philippines’ only chance to have a trade agreement with the United States.
“I think what the Philippine government has done is completely rational. They have indicated to the president of the United States their interest and this is currently under active consideration. It’s a matter for the Philippines to decide whether they want to make that crucial last step and become a participant in the negotiations,” Groser said.
Groser also supported the position of the Philippine government to assess first the outcome of the TPP negotiations before making any decision.
“After the negotiations, the Philippine government will be in a much better position to make an assessment on what it needs to do to live up to the high standards that may be agreed upon under the TPP,” he said.
The TPP is currently being negotiated among the US, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
The multilateral agreement is expected to lower trade barriers among participating countries and to strengthen patent protection, among others.