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Diplomats quiet on Trans-Pacific Partnership progress

Wednesday 12 Dec 2012 4:19 p.m.

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Negotiators say they've made good progress at the Auckland round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks, but the diplomats stayed quiet about exactly how much progress they've made towards their goal of reaching a final agreement by October of next year.

“It has been a constructive and busy week, with further progress being made across the negotiation,” says New Zealand’s chief negotiator David Walker.

He says Canada and Mexico have successfully joined the talks, though Canada's chief negotiator, Kirsten Hillman, didn't want to say whether they are willing to scrap tariffs on agricultural goods.

“What I can say is it's been an excellent first round for us,” says Ms Hillman.

The secrecy around the talks is among the issues that concerned protestors who gathered at Parliament today - and a lone protestor in Auckland.

America's chief negotiator, Barbara Weisel, says they're trying to represent a broad range of voices within the US.

“Clearly stakeholders within even our own systems are not in agreement on lots and lots of issues,” says Ms Weisel.

The US may rethink a proposal that would affect Pharmac's ability to buy cheap generic drugs.

“We have not come to a decision on what our response will be,” says Ms Weisel.

Australia remains adamant it won’t agree to a proposal to allow corporations to sue governments in an international tribunal.

“The Australian government has said it's not prepared to sign up to an investor state dispute mechanism as part of the TPP agreement,” says Australian negotiator Hamish McCormick.

The negotiations resume in Singapore in March.

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