Auckland, New Zealand – Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators were pleased to report further solid steps forward in closing the remaining gaps between them during the 15th round of negotiations, which closed today. Their announcement of new progress followed recent discussions between President Obama and the Leaders of other TPP countries, during which the Leaders reaffirmed their mutual priority of concluding a state-of-the-art, comprehensive agreement as quickly as possible and of smoothly integrating the newest members, Canada and Mexico, into the negotiations.
Canada and Mexico, the United States’ two largest export markets, participated in the TPP negotiations for the first time this round. Over the past several months, United States and the other eight TPP countries – Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam – worked with Canada and Mexico as they prepared to join, and both countries contributed to the progress achieved during this 10-day round. Their participation adds significantly to the economic importance of the agreement as well as to establishing TPP as the most promising pathway to promote regional economic integration and to support the creation and retention of U.S. jobs.
During the 10-day round, the 11 delegations concentrated on finding pragmatic and mutually-beneficial outcomes to remaining issues under consideration, while isolating the outstanding challenges to be addressed in the months ahead. They furthered their efforts to close the outstanding legal texts of the 29 chapters of the agreement covering all trade and investment-related issues between them, making progress across the agreement. With most chapters far along, the United States and its TPP partners agreed to work between now and the next round to address the handful of issues still open in them, in such areas as customs, telecommunications, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary issues, and other issues; and to intensify their efforts on the chapters where the volume of remaining work is more substantial.
Through the TPP, the United States is seeking to address new issues that respond to concerns raised by U.S. stakeholders and that will enhance U.S. competitiveness in the 21st century and support the expansion of U.S. exports. The United States also is committed to advancing core U.S. values, such as transparency, labor rights and environmental protection.
Further steps forward were also made on goods, services and investment, and government procurement during this round; leaders of the 11 TPP countries have agreed to comprehensive access to each other’s markets in all areas. TPP member delegations continued to advance their work to develop the tariff packages on industrial goods, agriculture, and textiles, as well as on rules of origin promoting the development of supply chains that include companies based in the United States and the other TPP countries. In addition, they discussed their respective market-opening commitments on services and investment, and government procurement. The TPP delegations recognize that further work is needed to meet the Leaders’ goals for a high-standard result in the market access negotiations, and were able to set timetables for intersessional work that would ensure additional progress at the next round.
On December 7, the TPP negotiations were temporarily adjourned so that negotiators could engage with the more than 300 stakeholders registered to join the TPP stakeholder events in Auckland. This included more than 70 stakeholders from virtually all TPP countries, who made presentations on a wide range of issues and met informally with TPP negotiators. Also that day, U.S. Chief Negotiator Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Barbara Weisel and fellow Chief Negotiators briefed stakeholders and took questions on the substance and process of the TPP talks.
The 16th round of TPP negotiations will be held in Singapore, from March 4-13.