No deal struck in TPP talks

The twelve Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministers hold a press conference to discuss progress in the negotiations in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii (Reuters)
The twelve Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministers hold a press conference to discuss progress in the negotiations in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii (Reuters)

New Zealand's trade minister is disappointed negotiators have been unable to reach an agreement in the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, but is still optimistic about eventually finalising the deal.

Trade ministers today announced no deal had been reached in Hawaii on the secretive trade agreement, which includes 12 nations and covers about 40 percent of the global economy.

In a brief joint statement they said they were still highly confident a deal would eventually be reached.

Talks are expected to resume in November, although no official date has been set.

A dispute over access to dairy markets, in which New Zealand has been significantly involved, has been a major sticking point along with car and drug industry issues.

Dairy products represent 20 percent of New Zealand's exports and open access to the 11 other TPP countries could be a huge economic gain.

Asked how far away an acceptable deal on dairy was to New Zealand, Trade Minister Tim Groser said the meeting was streets ahead of previous meetings but he declined to be precise.

"In every negotiation I have been involved in over the last 30 years, dairy is always the last issue, or one of the last two issues, to be resolved because it has been so distorted for so many years," he said.

In a statement issued later, Mr Groser said he was disappointed with the outcome but said negotiators were committed to finalising the deal.

"This is about getting the best possible deal for New Zealand, not a deal at any cost," he said.

Earlier in the week, New Zealand trade agriculture envoy Mike Petersen said Japan and Canada's rigid stances on reducing tariffs were stalling talks.

"Frankly, the discussion's at such a level that it's become incredibly frustrating if we really want to get a decent deal out of here," he told the Canadian Press.

The deal has also been controversial in New Zealand because of fears it may raise the price of medication for national drug-buying agency Pharmac and could lead to companies being able to sue governments for changing laws.

The Green Party said the end of the round was a good chance for the government to reveal what concessions had already been made.

"It's an opportunity for Tim Groser and John Key to finally come clean and reveal what the TPP really means for New Zealand, particularly for Pharmac, our ICT and dairy sectors, and for investor-state dispute settlements," Green Party trade spokesman Russel Norman said.

University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey this week stated she would ask a High Court for a judicial review into why Official Information Act requests about the deal were being rejected.

The Hawaii round of negotiations was seen as vital to keeping the trade deal out of US presidential elections where candidates from both sides of the political spectrum are nervous about the agreement.

NZN / 3 News