The U.S. trade agenda is jam-packed this week, with key developments taking place in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and the U.S.-EU trade talks, along with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit, a U.S.-India commercial dialogue and a trip by World Trade Organization’s director-general to Washington.
[Reposted from Inside US Trade | September 21, 2015]
The next two weeks, in fact, will be pivotal for the TPP negotiations, as participating countries have now agreed on a plan to hold a chief negotiators meeting in Atlanta on Sept. 26-30, which will be followed by an Oct. 1-2 ministerial where they are aiming to conclude the talks, according to informed sources. Both meetings will take place at the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel, they said.
A spokesman for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative declined to confirm the meeting.
Ahead of the Atlanta talks, negotiators from the U.S., Japan, Canada and Mexico will hold a joint meeting Sept. 21-22 in San Francisco to try to narrow their differences on the TPP automotive rules of origin, which have emerged in recent weeks as perhaps the biggest stumbling block in the talks.
The apparent goal of the meeting is to work out potential compromises on the automotive rules of origin in order to tee them up for a decision by ministers in Atlanta. Some sources held out the possibility that the Atlanta ministerial could be called off if the San Francisco meetings do not go smoothly.
TPP countries including the U.S. and Japan seem to be hoping that the pressure of the upcoming ministerial will help force Mexico to make a deal on the automotive rules of origin. At the July TPP ministerial in Maui, Mexico and Canada rejected as too liberal the automotive rules worked out bilaterally by the U.S. and Japan.
But Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is in the heat of his campaign ahead of the Oct. 19 federal elections, has already made clear he is willing to compromise on the auto issue in order to make a deal. He did so in comments in an election debate on Sept. 17 that were subsequently blasted by New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair, who is running neck-and-neck in the polls with Harper and Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau.
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