Washington — Trans-Pacific Partnership members took significant steps toward finalizing a comprehensive, 21st-century trade agreement during the latest round of negotiations in San Diego, according to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk.
“The talks, which were held July 2–10, continued the march forward toward conclusion of the more than 20 chapters under negotiation between the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam,” Kirk’s office said in a statement upon the meeting’s close.
Calling the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “a key trade initiative of the Obama administration,” the USTR said the deal seeks to “promote manufacturing, innovation and entrepreneurship” while simultaneously reflecting important values such as worker rights and environmental protections.
Negotiators made substantial progress in discussing the legal texts of all chapters during the 13th round of talks, Kirk said, “reflecting significant preparatory work done by each of the TPP countries since the previous negotiating round in Dallas in May.”
In particular, the USTR said, the group focused talks on customs, cross-border services, telecommunications, government procurement, competition policy, and cooperation and capacity building. Kirk’s office said the group also held productive discussions on chapters covering rules of origin, investment, financial services and temporary entry.
The nine countries continued talks on tariff packages that would allow access to each other’s industrial goods, agriculture and textiles markets. Additionally, the USTR said, negotiators discussed specific commitments for liberalizing the services trade market as well as promoting regional supply chains.
Notably, the United States submitted a new proposal in the intellectual property rights group having to do with copyright limitations and exceptions. The provision, announced July 3, was proposed to protect the rights of intellectual property creators across the region while also offering proper exceptions and limitations to benefit consumers.
The USTR said the meeting featured numerous opportunities for interested stakeholders to discuss their ideas and concerns about the deal with negotiators.
“The U.S. government recognizes the importance of obtaining as broad a range of input from the public as possible throughout the TPP negotiations; the active engagement we are undertaking is refining our negotiating positions and will result in a better agreement,” Kirk’s office said.
Nearly 300 people from the United States and other partnership countries met with representatives through a July 2 Direct Stakeholder Engagement Forum, which the USTR said “enabled representatives of industry, nongovernmental organizations, academia and the general public to meet directly with negotiators.”
During this round, USTR also notified Congress of its intent to enter into TPP negotiations with Mexico and Canada on July 9 and 10, respectively. Both countries were invited into negotiations in May by all nine partnership members. Mexico and Canada are scheduled to formally join the TPP negotiations once current partnership countries successfully clear the additions through their own domestic procedures.
The 14th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations is scheduled to take place September 6–15 in Leesburg, Virginia.