In brief

This article provides an update on the TPP negotations that have occured since our previously published article The Trans Pacific Partnership.

Summary 

The most recent ministerial meeting was held in Singapore in May 2014.

The Statement of the Ministers and Heads of Delegation1 stated that negotiators in Singapore had 'focused in particular on making meaningful progress on market access and also advanced outstanding rules issues in an effort to narrow [the] remaining differences', and were looking forward to 'intensified engagement over the coming weeks on market access and rules'. This has been pursued through bilateral talks, however progress on these fronts has been limited. A late September bilateral ministerial meeting between Japan and the USA was unable to make progress despite 'constructive working-level discussions'. There has been strong domestic resistance from agricultural groups in the USA in response to Japan's agricultural tariffs, with Congress refusing to give President Obama 'fast-track authority' to sign the TPP without a Congressional debate. Reports suggest that there were plans for a TPP Ministerial meeting in October, however these are yet to be confirmed.

Chief negotiators have met twice since the May ministerial discussions; a meeting in Ottawa, Canada in July and a recently concluded a meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam (1-10 September 2014). The talks, according to the USA Trade Representative, made 'important progress', and the countries agreed to a work plan to complete the deal as quickly as possible. According to the Australian government,2 progress was made in the areas of 'State-owned enterprises, intellectual property, investment, rules of origin, transparency and anti-corruption, as well as labour rights and environmental protections'.

There is currently no definite timeframe for the conclusion of the talks but the countries are keen to reach agreement as soon as possible.