Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Negotiators To Cover Full Range Of Issues During TPP Auckland Round

Posted: November 15, 2012

Negotiators at the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) round in Auckland are scheduled to cover the full range of issues when they meet Dec. 3-12, spending large chunks of time on chapters covering intellectual property (IP), labor and environmental protections, legal and institutional issues, market access and rules of origin, investment, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues, and issues related to technical barriers to trade (TBT), sources said.

The IP chapter will be negotiated from Dec. 3-10 and will primarily focus on copyright issues such as liability for Internet service providers, Internet retransmission, temporary copies and the U.S. proposal to establish a system of limitations and exceptions for acts of infringement. Enforcement is also expected to be a critical topic of discussion in the upcoming round, these sources said.

According to these sources, the IP negotiations will once again largely skirt around the sensitive area of patents and pharmaceuticals, as the U.S. is expected to continue reworking its initial proposal.

Labor and environmental protections will also be a major focus of the upcoming round. The environmental chapter is slated to be discussed Dec. 3-8, while negotiators will discuss labor issues Dec. 9-12, sources said. The U.S. continues to face some resistance on its environment proposal as it seeks to make the environment chapter fully enforceable. It is making more headway on labor, although high-level political issues still have to be resolved there as well.

Negotiators will also spend a lot of time discussing non-tariff barriers. The SPS discussions are slated for Dec. 3-6, and U.S. stakeholders are hoping that the U.S. tables new language making SPS disciplines, including those that go beyond WTO rules, fully enforceable. At the last negotiating round in September, the administration was still on the fence on this issue (Inside U.S. Trade, Sept. 14). TBT discussions are slated for Dec. 7-11, sources said.

The competition chapter, which includes U.S.-proposed disciplines on state-owned enterprises (SOEs), will not be discussed until the end of the round, from Dec. 10-12. At the last round of talks, SOE discussions made little progress because other TPP partners said they were still analyzing the U.S. proposal, and were not yet ready to engage in substantive talks. Some partners also made clear they are somewhat cool to the idea of strong SOE disciplines.

Other issues that will receive a lot of attention in Auckland include legal and institutional issues, which will be discussed Dec. 3-9, and financial services, which will be discussed Dec. 6-10. Negotiators are also slated to discuss rules of origin from Dec. 3-8, and general market access issues Dec. 10-12. The discussion of textiles in particular is slated to take place on Dec. 9, sources said, while customs will be discussed Dec. 10-11.

Concerning investment, where Australia continues to insist that it be exempted from investor-state dispute settlement provisions, negotiators are scheduled to meet Dec. 3-8. Negotiators are also set to discuss e-commerce issues Dec. 10-12. In that area, the U.S. and Australia are still at odds on how to approach e-commerce, especially as Australia is worried that the privacy of its citizens could be compromised (Inside U.S. Trade, Sept. 14).

Meanwhile, talks on cross-border trade in services will take place on Dec. 3-5, and non-conforming measures will be discussed Dec. 9-10. Bilateral meetings between TPP participants are also expected to take place every day during the round, with bilateral talks on the issue of market access in particular scheduled to take place Dec. 5-6 and Dec. 8-9, sources said.

The telecommunications chapter will be discussed Dec. 8-9, while government procurement talks will take place Dec. 10 and 11. Bilateral government procurement meetings are slated to take place on Dec. 9.

As with past rounds, most negotiating groups will pause mid-round on Dec. 7 to participate in a stakeholder event and hear from industry lobbyists, civil society and other interested parties, who will have the opportunity to make presentations on different topics. These stakeholders will also be briefed by chief negotiators on the same day.

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