Trans-Pacific Partnership deal is close, Andrew Robb says, but obstacles remain

Trans-Pacific Partnership deal is close, Andrew Robb says, but obstacles remain

Australia’s sticking points on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement are biologic patents and market access around sugar and dairy, the trade minister has revealed, as it seems likely an agreement will be reached by the end of this week.

Andrew Robb has flown to Hawaii for what he hopes is the final round of negotiations on the broad detail of the TPP as looming elections in the US and Canada put pressure on the nations to reach a deal.

The latest round of negotiations comes as Labor passed a motion at its national conference to remove-investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses from existing trade agreements, which Robb has warned could jeopardise Australia’s standing as a reliable trading partner.

“We are very close [to an agreement on TPP] and I do feel that we’re into the last few issues,” he told ABC’s AM program on Monday.

“People do seem to have come with a mind with trying to conclude it and I’m quite hopeful by the end of the week we will have achieved what I think is the best trade deal since the Uruguay Round 20 years ago.”

Robb rejected criticisms the TPP negotiations have been shrouded in secrecy, saying broad detail of the agreement could be available to the public as early as the end of the week.

 

Asked what issues were still being ironed out, Robb responded: “Different companies, different issues really, for Australia of course the biologics, what protection periods extend to biologic has been an issue from the outset and is still unresolved.

“Some market access issues are still in the discussion stage and sugar is in that category, same of dairy. Depending on the country, it is different issues,” he said.

“When it is concluded [people will see the details], the thing is nothing’s agreed until everything is agreed, we’ve been through thousands of pages of different issues which in large part have now been resolved but only if some of the more difficult issues are also agreed, nothing’s agreed until everything’s agreed.”