28 Oct 2014

What now for the TPP deal?

5:14 pm on 28 October 2014

Trade deals are funny beasts. Proponents are usually optimistic a deal is never far away, yet cautious enough to warn that obstacles could still derail their success.

Trade Minister Tim Groser.

New Zealand's Trade Minister Tim Groser. Photo: AFP

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which involves New Zealand, the United States and Japan plus nine other nations, fits the bill almost perfectly.

Trade Minister Tim Groser told Radio New Zealand this morning that the finish line for the TPP is in sight. So:

Optimism a deal is nigh - check.

But Mr Groser also said it could walk away from the proposed Pacific-wide trade deal if New Zealand does not get what it wants.

Ah, warning it could go pear-shaped - check.

It's all very familiar.

Just a year ago following a Trade Ministers meeting in Singapore, Mr Groser said a deal wouldn't be done by Christmas 2013, but "significant progress" (every TPP ministers' statement appears to contain this phase) had been made.

He was optimistic that an agreement could be completed in the first half of 2014

Japan's trade representative Akira Amari in Sydney.

Japan's trade representative Akira Amari in Sydney. Photo: AFP

This time, Mr Groser told Morning Report today that an agreement in principal could be agreed in the first quarter of next year, 2015.

Interestingly, Japan's Trade Minister Akira Amari had a different message.

Japan and the United States have yet to conclude talks between themselves, which are vital to advance the TPP.

Mr Amari was reported as saying the finish line for the bilateral talks was not yet in sight.

"The problems left are extremely difficult and we cannot solve them easily," he said.

So, is the end is in sight - or is the end not in sight?

After five years of the TPP talks, one shouldn't hold one's breath wondering.

  • NZ minister hopeful of Korea deal soon
  • Concern over medicine price increases
  • Farmers push for TPP tariff elimination
  • New Zealanders 'in the dark over TPP'
  • TPP deadline moves again
  • National would settle TPP - Key