9 Oct 2013

Special agricultural trade envoy hails TPP progress

3:05 pm on 9 October 2013

New Zealand's special agricultural trade envoy is hailing what he sees as the progress made at the latest Trans Pacific Partnership trade talks in Bali.

But Mike Petersen agrees with the prime minister that the target of getting an agreement by the the end of the year is still going to be hard work.

John Key chaired Tuesday's TPP meeting in the absence of the American president, says there's plenty of political momentum among the 12 countries to get a deal.

The Agricultural Trade envoy, Hawke's Bay farmer Mike Petersen, says getting trade reforms for agriculture was always going to be challenging, because it will take a political will in countries where there are still high levels of subsidy and tariff protection.

However, he says there are positive signs of change in one of the most heavily protected economies, Japan.

Mike Petersen says one of the big gains from this week's TPP meeting, from New Zealand's point of view, was the decision to have a single tariff schedule.

But a critic of the TPP, Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey says despite the rhetoric about momentum, negotiators are still stuck on the same issues they were a year ag

Those are most non-trade related issues such as medicine, the environment and state owned enterprises.

Professor Kelsey says she doesn't see how they're going to make progress on those by the end of the year, when there are still internal tensions between the participants , especially around American demands.