TPP-11 still not agreed ahead of APEC deadline next week

November 2, 2017: Media reports from the secret TPP–11 meeting held in Japan this week show that there is still no agreement between the 11 governments about the possible content of the TPP agreement without the US. They were aiming to reach agreement before a TPP -11 Ministers’ meeting on November 8-9, ahead of the APEC meeting in Vietnam on November 10.

Sticking points include foreign investor rights to sue governments (ISDS) and stronger medicine monopolies which most governments only reluctantly agreed to get access to the US market. Without such access they want these provisions frozen or amended. Nikkei Asia reported that, despite some progress there was still disagreement about these and other outstanding items.

Japan and Australia have been pushing for minimal changes to the TPP text in the hope that this might persuade the US to re-join the agreement in future. This rationale has been severely undermined by the announcement by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that the US itself would not support ISDS in the NAFTA negotiations. This begs the question of why any other government should support them.

Reuters reported  from the Japan meeting that Canadian officials played down the chances of any formal deal by November 8-9, citing the need to ensure the provisions in a new TPP would not cause problems in the NAFTA negotiations, which continue until March next year.

The New Zealand Herald reported that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was sworn in last week, has announced that  plans to ban foreign home purchases would proceed and would not violate any TPP deal. She said that New Zealand would not agree to ISDS in future trade deals and would focus on changes to ISDS at the APEC TPP-11 discussions.