Monthly Archives: September 2015

A TPP deal by Friday? Don’t bet the farm

It is raining in Atlanta. It’s likely to rain all week — which suits the mood at the negotiating table so far.

There were rumours circulating Tuesday that chief negotiators working on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal had reached an agreement-in-principle (AIP). Would that be like the AIP that Canada announced with Europe, the one which has spent years in the ‘final polishing and legal drafting’ phase?

Rumours of a deal have been denied — but what are denials worth in this ultra-opaque round of negotiations? No one here is swallowing the AIP bilge. Two years ago, the national leaders involved in these talks suggested they already had an agreement-in-principle. So much for credibility.

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TPP – Gone with the Wind?

Ministers from 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries are returning to the negotiating table — this time in Atlanta –barely a month after the meltdown at Maui. The negotiations are still not ripe for harvest. But the drivers of monthly ministerial meetings have no fear of failure. They are good at it.

The San Francisco Quad meeting (Canada, Mexico, Japan and the US) on automotive rules of origin was supposed to set the stage for a successful Ministerial meeting. It has not.

Japan says the auto deal is close. Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mi), who is House Ways & Means Committee Ranking Member, says there is a lot to do.

There’s an important truism in trade talks: the deal is never as close as it appears to those desperate for closure.


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Sayonara NAFTA: Canada must compromise to stay in TPP talks

Ministers negotiating the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership will meet for three days next week in Atlanta in what is seen as a last ditch effort to reach an agreement.

Prime Ministers Shinzō Abe of Japan and Stephen Harper, and President Barack Obama all want the deal done – and done soon.

After the Maui fiasco last month, nothing can be left to chance. This must be an essentially done deal before it is handed off to Ministers. A working session in San Francisco on the automotive impasse begins today. Those meetings will determine the outcome of what, if anything, will be discussed at the Atlanta meetings, which run from September 30 to October 1.

Obama has predicted aloud that the agreement will be done in weeks. He is a brave soul given his record as a prognosticator. The deal is still not certain. Are his advisors confident – or is there no chance but to push ahead – because the window for passage on his watch will soon close?

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Carmageddon: Why the TPP probably won’t be an election issue

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations remain mired in basic disagreements. Closure in 2015 is a fading dream abandoned by the realists.

Others, recognizing that their best bet is passage on Obama’s watch, continue to press for an early ministerial conference to avoid the legislative timetable slipping into 2016. But their views have little traction these days.

The mood going into Maui was positive and highly optimistic. The unexpected crash has deflated that spirit of optimism. Little has happened since the crash. The way forward is most uncertain.

One thing we know: the delays likely will prevent the TPP from becoming a Canadian election issue.

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