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TPP talks wrap up without American dairy offer

Radio New Zealand

TPP talks wrap up without American dairy offer

21 March 2012

The latest round of negotiations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership nine-country trade pact has wrapped up without an American offer on access to its prized dairy markets.

An offer had been expected at the Melbourne talks last week, given that there is a June deadline for a deal to be presented to trade ministers and a target of the end of 2012 for a final agreement.

Trade Minister Tim Groser says, however, there is no reason to panic since the timetable is for the United States to determine and he is very flexible on that.

Radio New Zealand’s economics correspondent says America’s position on intellectual property is understood to have come under fire in the Melbourne talks.

Washington wants fast-tracking new drugs in return for longer patents, along with stiffer copy protections and Mr Groser says the balance is subtly shifting against the US position.

"The Americans know where we stand - that we’re strong on anti-piracy but we want a reasonable access for the public to all of the issues covered by whatever intellectual property right device you’re talking about."

He says it is, however, an issue that can’t be resolve quickly.

Demands from the US pharmaceutical industry over New Zealand’s drug-purchasing agency Pharmac is understood to not yet have made it on to the formal agenda.

Mr Groser says his stance on the issue is unchanged.

"We all value Pharmac as a vital public institution but we’re always ready to talk about people’s concerns and see if we can find ways round it.

"The art of being a good negotiator in this game is to be creative."