New name, hope for TPP after Canada returns to talks

The TPP has a new name and a new lease of life, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says, with Canada returning to the table after initially seeming to deliver a critical blow to the fate of the deal.

Ardern says negotiations are still continuing over aspects of the Comprehensive Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP as it is now known, but there was a “stabilised text” which could be worked on.

On Friday night, Ardern and other countries were pointing the finger at Canada after it failed to turn up to a meeting of TPP leaders where an agreement of some sort had been expected to be reached.

However, the Prime Minister told media on Saturday afternoon (NZT) negotiators had reconvened to make some progress, with Canada returning to talks.

“It would be fair to say that there [is] still a little bit of clarification required around where those talks have finally landed, but there is a view that things are being brought together but there remains a bit of a work in progress.”

“In that sense there is a legal agreement in respect of just about all of it - the ‘just about’ could be important.”

Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker said the CPTPP members had “returned to the position where there was stabilised text”, although there were still some areas to be dealt with.

“In that sense there is a legal agreement in respect of just about all of it - the ‘just about’ could be important.”

Parker said there were four provisions of the CPTPP which would be suspended, with the Japanese and Vietnamese co-chairs of the talks expected to provide more details in a written statement at 5pm NZT.

Asked why the decision had been made to rename the TPP, Parker said it was a reflection of the high environmental and labour standards in the deal, including the ability to take enforcement action against countries that breached those provisions.

“In that sense it is a more comprehensive and progressive agreement than has ever been agreed in major nation multilateral agreements before, and so it was important to some, including Canada, that that be referenced in the renaming of the text because there’s some misunderstanding about that out in the public.”

“Very late in the negotiation we tried to influence the outcome of this negotiation - we tried to get rid of them [ISDS clauses] completely, we were unsuccessful in that.”

He said there were some suggestions that Canada had pulled out of Friday’s talks due to concerns about the quality of labour standards, which New Zealand rejected.

“We don’t accept that’s correct: that implies that we weren't standing up for and were successful on labour standards - we did and we were successful.”

The Government has made it an “absolute priority” to highlight its opposition to the controversial Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses.

“Very late in the negotiation we tried to influence the outcome of this negotiation - we tried to get rid of them completely, we were unsuccessful in that.”

However, Parker said it had managed to narrow the scope of ISDS provisions, including an exemption for investment screening, and was still pursuing bilateral deals with CPTPP countries.

Comments

Newsroom does not allow comments directly on this website. We invite all readers who wish to discuss a story or leave a comment to visit us on Twitter or Facebook. We also welcome your news tips and feedback via email: contact@newsroom.co.nz. Thank you.

PARTNERS