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Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations stalled until November

Japan driven to distraction, US can't sweeten Oz, NZ drowning in a milk lake

The controversial and secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations have stalled once again.

The treaty is being negotiated between a dozen Pacific rim nations and is thought to include harsh arrangements that would criminalise copyright breaches. That provision is less controversial, however, than the treaty itself as the full text has not been released to the public or even to the legislatures of the nations negotiating the pact.

Although the collapse of this round of talks followed hard on the heels of a Wikileaks document dump detailing US spying on Japan, it's likely that there were more than one spiked spoke in this particular wheel.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation lists:

  • A spat between Japan and America over the auto industry;
  • Australia's failure to secure better market access to the US for its sugar farmers;
  • A metaphorical haka from New Zealand over the dairy industry; and
  • Failure to agree on pharmaceutical monopoly periods.

All reports agree that America's stance on biologic drugs, that data from patient trials should be proprietary for 12 years, set it at odds with practically all the other countries involved in the talks.

Apart from pharmaceutical concerns, there's no suggestion that the TPP's controversial copyright violation provisions are being debated as hotly as sugar, milk or motor cars.

Australia's trade minister Andrew Robb complained that the deal stalled because of disagreements between the “big four” economies – the US, Japan, Canada and Mexico (Australia was slightly ahead of Mexico in raw US dollars at the end of 2014).

With the failure of the Hawaii talks, the TPP's future progress will be considerably slowed down, as the next US presidential electoral cycle ramps up.

The joint ministerial statement said merely that the Hawaii confab involved a “week of productive meetings” that resulted in “significant progress”.

No firm date has been set for the next meeting.

On Friday, Wikileaks dropped a pile of documents that detailed US spying on Japan.

The documents record that American surveillance reached both the Japanese cabinet, as well as major companies such as Mistubishi, Mitsui, and public service targets including a central bank board member. ®

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