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March 27, 2017 | by  | in News |
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TPP Forges Ahead

After seven years of negotiation between 12 countries, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) appeared to collapse after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in January 2017.

The TPP sought to formalise trade and investment negotiations between member states and would have cut tariffs, increased access to markets, and set common labour, environmental, and intellectual property standards.

The agreement was widely criticised throughout the discussions due to a lack of engagement and consultation with Māori, for the greater rights it would afford corporations, and for the potential it had to undermine New Zealand sovereignty.

New Zealand signed on to the TPP as it existed in 2016.

A meeting between the remaining eleven countries in Chile on March 16 indicated a desire to conclude some form of deal before the TPP’s February 2018 ratification deadline.

Meredith Lewis, the Associate Director of the New Zealand Centre of International Economic Law, said that she sees a possible future for the trade agreement.

The key issue, however, will be how the eleven remaining TPP members, including New Zealand, amend the deal in the aftermath of the withdrawal of the US.

“Many of the TPP provisions reflect concessions the non-US participants made at the behest of the US. Without the US, there would be interest in changing some of those provisions.”

“On the other hand, the other eleven likely want to leave the door open for the US to return to the agreement — perhaps when a different administration is in the White House — and changing the terms in any significant way would make it more difficult for the US to do so.”

In an interview with RadioNZ, Trade Minister Todd McClay focussed instead on a way forward for those nations still involved in the process. “There’s a very clear view [among these countries] that there are great advantages in the TPP that are worth considering further.”

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