International Trade: Single Market Access Schedule to Result From Multiple Separate Negotiations in TPP


Source: BNA
Related Topics: International Trade

Single Market Access Schedule to Result
From Multiple Separate Negotiations in TPP
BNA Snapshot
Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations
Key Development: TPP to have single market access schedule.
Next Steps: Fourteenth round of TPP talks set for Sept. 6-15 in Leesburg, Va.

By Amy Tsui

The Trans-Pacific Partnership group of nine countries will be negotiating a single market access schedule, Office of the U.S.  Trade  Representative spokeswoman Carol Guthrie told BNA Aug. 9.

Because of the existing  free   trade  agreements (FTAs) between many of the TPP participants, market access has been a complex issue, Guthrie said in an email. It has not been clear whether TPP would maintain the existing FTAs' market access schedules, with their different tariff rates and exemptions, or whether the TPP would subsume those agreements in some fashion.

The United States already has FTAs with Australia, Chile, Peru, and Singapore. The other TPP participants are Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Vietnam.

“The United States is negotiating market access schedules with the countries with which it does not already have FTAs. Some countries are negotiating schedules bilaterally, others are negotiating plurilaterally. Once these are concluded, the TPP countries will put together a single TPP schedule,” Guthrie said.

The 14th round of TPP negotiations will take place in Leesburg, Va., Sept. 6-15. The round will take place without Canada and Mexico, which have been formally invited to participate in the TPP negotiations. Canada and Mexico will take part in the talks after the current TPP participants conclude internal domestic consultations with stakeholders.

Market Access Concerns
Laura Dawson, president of Dawson Strategic, which provides advice to businesses on cross-border trade, market access, and regulatory and policy issues, cautioned against a temptation by the United States to “fragment” the TPP negotiations.

Dawson, speaking at an Aug. 8 panel discussion at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said she found the temptation to be of most concern in the area of market access. She said the negotiation of separate market access schedules would mean that the parties to an  agreement would not be giving their best efforts toward a shared pool of market access commitments.

Dawson said negotiating separate market access schedules among the parties would cause suspicion and lead TPP parties to feel as though they were being played off against each other, or would be picked off one after the other.

There are no separate groups negotiating market access by country or product category, according to Guthrie.

New TPP Participants Considered
The Woodrow Wilson International Center panel discussed the recent invitations extended to Canada and Mexico to participate in the TPP negotiations.

The United States has said that, once the two countries join the talks, it will negotiate market access with Canada, but not with Mexico, because there already is reciprocal market access with Mexico.

Dawson, also a former public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, said it remains to be seen whether Canada's supply management systems for dairy, poultry, and egg products would be put on the negotiating table. Nonetheless, Canada's interests in the TPP are likely to strongly align with those of the United States, she said.

Dawson said that Canada would be a strong ally for the United States on investment, services, standards, intellectual property, and some of the other “neat and interesting” next-generation issues being addressed in the ongoing talks. Such issues include ensuring  free  data flows, small and medium-sized enterprises' ability to use  trade  agreements effectively, and enforceability of environmental commitments.

In addressing the “neat and interesting” issues, Dawson was referencing remarks made by Deputy U.S.  Trade  Representative Demetrios Marantis earlier in the meeting (153 DER A-20, 8/9/12).

Another participant on the Woodrow Wilson International Center panel, Luz Maria De La Mora Sanchez, a professor at Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas, A.C. (CIDE), said Mexico needs to be part of TPP, given the importance of the U.S. market as a destination for 80 percent of Mexican exports and the need to better integrate Mexico's  trade  with rapidly growing Asian nations, with which it currently has a  trade  deficit.

Sanchez, also a former public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, said it was well known that Mexican President Felipe Calderon signed the Anti-Counterfeiting  Trade   Agreement  (ACTA) in 2012 as a confidence-building measure for participation in TPP. She said that ACTA had become a very sensitive issue between Mexico's executive branch and Congress.

Accepting Agreed-Upon Texts
Sanchez noted that it was unprecedented for Mexico to have accepted joining the TPP, given that it would not be able to participate in the process until after 14 rounds of talks had already taken place. It was a high price to pay to join the talks, she said, because Mexico has agreed not to seek to reopen texts already agreed upon by the parties and to accept the completed texts and drafts as is.

USTR's Guthrie told BNA that all countries interested in joining the TPP negotiations before they conclude would be required to accept already agreed-upon text.

USTR officials have said that they expect the final TPP to be a living  agreement  that can be updated to further raise standards and respond to changes in the global economy or to new emerging issues, such as the accession of new members after an initial  agreement  is finalized.

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