Farmer's Voice

The Transpacific Partnership Trade Agreement failed to reach a consensus agreement

In a major setback to US President Barack Obama, trade ministers from 12 Pacific Rim nations who met in Hawaii last week could not finalize the Trans- Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) after they failed to reach a consensus on certain issues, including intellectual property rights, although US Trade Representative Michael Froman said the delegates would "continue intensive engagement to find common ground," adding that he was "more confident than ever that TPP is within reach and will support jobs and economic growth." Negotiators made substantial progress in certain areas, including the completion of a chapter on environmental protection, and whether geographic places can be trademarks for items such as cheese. The TPPA, when finalized, could free up global commerce, set common trade standards for 40% of the world's economy, and address issues such as labor conditions, wildlife trafficking and human rights. Human rights groups, unions and a majority of Congressional Democrats have been criticizing the secrecy surrounding the negotiations. By a narrow margin, Obama gathered enough support in June to secure negotiating authority from Congress to complete trade deals (Washington Post 7/31).

In a joint statement issued on July 31st, trade ministers from 12 Pacific Rim nations said "we have made significant progress [on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement] and will continue work on resolving a limited number of remaining issues." The statement said the negotiators will remain in "close contact" and continue their intensive engagement to find common ground and also continue to work to formalize the agreements reached so far. They added that "we are more confident than ever that TPP is within reach and will support jobs and economic growth" across the Asia Pacific region (United States Trade Representative 7/31).