WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2014 – The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) says negotiators made “important progress” on a range of issues during 10 days of Trans-Pacific Partnership talks in Hanoi, but apparently the contentious issue of market access wasn’t among them.

In a news release, USTR said chief negotiators for the 12 TPP nations made progress on issues including state-owned enterprises, intellectual property, investment, rules of origin, transparency and anti-corruption, and labor. A “market access package” was among the issues to be resolved, it said.

“We have committed to a focused work plan, which will allow us to boost momentum and make continued progress,” Barbara Weisel, the U.S. chief negotiator for the TPP, said in the release. “All countries involved want to reach a conclusion to unlock the enormous opportunity TPP represents.”

U.S. agricultural stakeholders and their representatives in Congress have been demanding that in any agreement, Japan must allow the U.S. and other TPP countries greater access to its domestic markets. Japan, however has been resisting any major changes in the tariff protection it provides for its so-called “sacred” farm products, including rice, wheat, dairy, beef and pork, and sugar.

To advance work on the unresolved issues, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman plans to work bilaterally with many of his TPP counterparts in the coming weeks. Next week, he will meet with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh in Washington, and other meetings with TPP ministers are expected to follow, according to the release.

In the TPP talks, negotiators are trying to create one of the world’s largest free-trade agreements, with countries that account for 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). Besides the U.S., Japan and Vietnam, the other nations involved in the talks are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Singapore.


For more news, go to: www.Agri-Pulse.com