WHAT DOES KEY KNOW ABOUT THE NEXT MOVES ON THE TPP THAT WE DON'T?
By Richard Harman (author)
Maybe the Prime Minister knows something the rest of the world does not but he is confident there will be a TPP agreement and that the negotiators can’t wait for Canada.
If the deal is to be signed at the APEC summit in November, then because President Obama will need 90 days after the deal is concluded done before he can sign, negotiations will have to be over inside the next three weeks.
But there is pressure on the United States not to make any concessions on New Zealand dairy imports until it gets concessions for its dairy exports from Canada.
So now the negotiations have been complicated by Canada’s Prime Minister formally calling that country’s election yesterday.
Though the election is not till September 29, he has called it early because Canadian election funding rules set the amounts parties can spend on a per day basis and the ruling Conservative party have a $C50 million campaign fund.
Even so Canadian commentators say the election will be tight.
Canada is important to New Zealand because there is pressure on the American negotiators not to concede a dairy agreement with New Zealand unless American dairy farmers get equivalent access into Canada.
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in favour of the TPP but his main opponent, the National Democrats oppose it.
However the Prime Minister said that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not control the TPP negotiation timetable.
“He’s only one of 12 countries.
“In the end there’s a window which runs out not too far away from now really for President Obama to get this done.
“I’m not too sure you can have the luxury of saying you can wait till another down the track because then we’ll be right in the middle of the United States Presidential nominations and then the election and Australia has got an election next year.
“There will never be a perfect time when you are dealing with `12 countries.”
And on Saturday at the press conference at the end of the TPP talks on Maui, Canada’s International Trade Minister, Ed Fast, said that Canada had come to Maui ready to conclude the TPP agreement.
And he hinted that Canada would be willing to keep talking over the next few weeks.
“When our partners reconvene, and we trust that will be very soon Canada will continue to be at the table,” he said.
At the same press conference Trade Minister Tom Groser rejected a suggestions from a Japanese TV reporter that New Zealand had been “very demanding” on dairy access.
Mr Groser said New Zealand had already made very large compromises by agreeing to move away from the idea that the TPP would eliminate all dairy tariffs.
Mr Key said he could not rule out that there would be intense negotiations and another meeting within two to three weeks.
It has long been thought that the President Obama would like to see the signing of the TPP as a highpoint of the APEC summit in Manila on November 18 – 19.
The authoritative US trade newsletter, “Inside US Trade” says that if they wanted to do that they would have to reach a deal by mid-August.
The fast-track law requires President Obama to notify Congress 90 days before he signs a TPP agreement.