US Trade Representative Michael Froman says after a week of intense talks, they have made considerable progress toward reaching a major trade deal, but have not reached a full and final agreement.
[Reposted from NB Newstalk | Newstalk ZB Staff | August 1, 2015]
He told a media conference negotiators will continue their intensive talks to reach a deal.
New Zealand’s Trade Minister Tim Groser was asked how far short they are on reaching a deal on dairy that New Zealand has found satisfactory.
He responded that after the latest round of talks issues which could be considered undergrowth have been cleared away, and they are streets ahead.
“You can see clearly there are one or two really hard issues. One is dairy,” he said.
Groser said he didn’t want to answer the question in a way which would cause issues for his negotiating partners, by being too precise.
However he said ‘commercially meaningful access’ has not quite been achieved.
There’s talk discussions could resume in November, but Groser said he would be very surprised if it took that long.
A spokesman for Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb said their team had made progress on sugar and dairy during the talks in Hawaii, but discussions were yet to be finalised.
Prominent critic of the deal University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey said that not opting to stay another day shows the gridlock is serious and potentially intractable.
She claims everyone is blaming each other in Maui, but the underlying reason for the gridlock is the domestic opposition in almost all the TPPA countries.
Kelsey said people don’t believe a deal that raises the price of medicines and handcuffs the right of governments to regulate is in their national interests.
Despite a shroud of secrecy around the negotiations, politicians know they can’t sign a final deal that they can’t sell at home.
Kelsey argues it’s time for Prime Minister John Key and Groser to cut their losses.