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Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Talks Advance in Texas

May 16, 2012


Addison, Texas – The United States said today that TPP partners – Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam – made better-than-expected progress at the twelfth round of negotiations that formally concluded today outside Dallas, Texas. U.S. negotiators have reported to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk that the progress achieved during this round has further narrowed differences in the text and the teams can now see a clear path forward toward conclusion of most of the more than 20 chapters of the agreement. A few TPP negotiating groups will continue to meet in Texas for the remainder of this week.

The TPP agreement is an important element of the Obama Administration’s efforts to support the creation and retention of high-quality jobs for Americans by increasing exports to the vibrant economies of the Asia-Pacific region. The United States and its eight partners are determined to expeditiously complete a comprehensive, next-generation agreement. During this eleven-day negotiating round, the teams focused heavily on making as much progress as possible on the texts of the agreement. The TPP countries closed discussions on small- and medium-sized enterprises, a new feature in a U.S. free trade agreement intended to support the integration into global trade of small- and medium-sized enterprises, which account for two-thirds of job creation in the United States. They also moved toward closure on the other new crossing-cutting issues of regulatory coherence, deepening of regional supply linkages between TPP countries, and promoting development.

At the same time, the teams sought to close out issues in the other chapters and charted a course ahead on the remaining elements. The discussions focused on ensuring that the commitments best encourage growth, development, and innovation; and address issues that businesses and workers are facing in the 21st century. From goods, services, investment, telecommunications, and e-commerce to customs, intellectual property, labor, environment, and competition, the groups remained committed to ambitious outcomes, while finding the flexibility necessary to develop solutions. This round, the nine countries had valuable exchanges on the U.S. proposal on State-owned enterprises, a new and challenging issue intended to lay out rules to ensure that these enterprises compete fairly with private companies. The teams had similarly productive exchanges on new issues related to trade and the environment, the digital economy, and the development of supply chains in the region.

In addition, the nine TPP countries continued work on developing ambitious tariff packages that would provide access to each other’s industrial goods, agricultural, and textiles markets. They also discussed specific commitments on liberalization of their respective services and government procurement markets.

At this round, the United States introduced a new format for negotiators to engage with the more than 300 stakeholders from the United States and other TPP countries who accepted the U.S. government’s invitation to be on-site throughout the talks. Many stakeholders took advantage of provided presentation spaces for one-on-one engagement with negotiators from all nine teams during a four-hour session. Many stakeholders commented that this format was more useful for this advanced stage of the negotiations, and allowed them to provide input to negotiators on specific issues still on the table in the talks. In addition, the United States hosted a roundtable during which the chief negotiators from the nine countries briefed stakeholders and responded to their questions on TPP issues from Internet freedom and intellectual property enforcement to investor-state dispute settlement. Stakeholders also arranged separate meetings with relevant negotiating groups on the issues on which they focus. USTR plans further briefings of its stakeholders in Washington, DC, following the round.

Ambassador Kirk will meet with his TPP counterparts on the margins of the APEC Trade ministers meeting in Kazan, Russia in early June to discuss progress achieved to date and to agree on a plan forward. They also will exchange views on their respective bilateral consultations for considering the membership of Canada, Japan, and Mexico in the TPP.

The next round of TPP negotiations will be held in San Diego, California from July 2-10. The Stakeholder Engagement Forum for that round will take place on Monday, July 2, and stakeholders are encouraged to make their plans now to participate. The United States is taking into consideration the many thoughtful comments and suggestions provided by stakeholders in Texas, and looks forward to putting together another useful session where negotiators and stakeholders can engage and discuss the many important issues being addressed in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks.