Officials from countries participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) meeting – Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam – announced that the United States will host the next round of negotiations in San Diego, Calif., on July 2-10.
Participants said they had made greater progress than expected at the 12th round of talks in Dallas -- where all negotiating groups met and countries also held bilateral meetings on market access for industrial goods, agricultural products and textiles. The discussions on the agreement's textile chapter reportedly focused on special safeguard and customs procedures, but did not include rules of origin.
(For more, see: Let’s expand the Trans Pacific Partnership)
U.S. Chief Negotiator Weisel indicated that TPP trade ministers, who will be meeting in June, are not likely to make a decision on whether Canada, Japan and Mexico can join the negotiations. The United States also has not concluded its bilateral discussions with the three countries, she said at a May 13 press briefing.
U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Kirk said the United States has communicated a list of the issues these countries need to address to show they can meet the high standards being pursued in the TPP talks.
In a key development, USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator Siddiqui said the United States wants to establish an arbitration mechanism in the TPP that would resolve agricultural disputes at an earlier stage than is possible through the World Trade Organization (WTO). Ambassador Siddiqui said TPP countries would retain the option of seeking dispute resolution at the WTO. The TPP alternative would maintain the same science-based standards as those established under WTO rules but the TPP would allow parties to seek consultations, information-sharing and dispute resolution at an earlier stage rather than waiting for a WTO decision.
The WTO's Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures allows countries to set their own food safety standards. However, agricultural and health regulations must be based on science; apply only to the extent necessary to protect human, animal, or plant life or health; and ensure that the rules do not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate among countries where identical or similar conditions prevail. The United States has contended that some trading partners use standards not based on scientific criteria to prohibit US agricultural exports.