TPP parties target end of year agreement

Update: October, 11/2013 - 09:24

by Nguyen Kieu Van

Leaders of the 12 nations taking part in Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations hope for a free trade deal by the end of this year.

The latest statement on Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, issued by the White House on October 8, indicated that nations are heading in the right direction.

The Viet Nam News Agency correspondent in Washington reported that ministers and negotiators had made remarkable progress in recent months on law documents relating to access of goods, investment, financial services, State-paid purchases and temporary market opening.

Nations also agreed that negotiators would continue to solve all remaining issues with the goal of finishing a comprehensive and balanced regional agreement by this year.

The statement emphasized that a successful agreement must reflect common views on establishing a later comprehensive model. The new model will settle all issues including trade, investment, job creation and economic development in TPP nations.

The trade liberalisation policy purports to guarantee benefits for all: manufacturers, service suppliers and farmers as well as workers, inventors, investors and consumers.

The hugely ambitious TPP will likely be a model for future commercial agreements.

At talks on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Bali, US Trade Representative Michael Froman said there was consensus on continuing TPP negotiations with the goal of reaching a deal by the end of the year.

"There has been substantial progress on outstanding issues but there are still remaining issues that must be addressed," he said.

In a joint statement, the United States and its TPP partners said they sought to clinch the deal in less than three months after making "significant progress" on a range of issues.

US Foreign Minister John Kerry, in a meeting with US diplomatic staff working in Indonesia, said it was a "very strong meeting with very good results."

"I promise all of you that your hard work and your devotion and commitment to this effort will pay off in the long run," he said.

The three-year old TPP talks, now involving 12 nations, aim to establish a free-trade bloc that would stretch from Viet Nam to Chile to Japan, encompassing 800 million people, about a third of world trade and nearly 40 per cent of the global economy.

Viet Nam's difficulties

At a seminar discussing Viet Nam's opportunities in Ha Noi last March, Dr. Peter Petri of the Brandeis University and East-West Centre said Viet Nam was one of the nations that could benefit most by joining the TPP playing field.

"Joining the TPP could be beneficial for the country, for it could help create jobs, institute regulatory reforms and promote competitiveness," he said.

However, he admitted that there were several country-specific issues, such as Viet Nam wanting to implement rules of origin on textiles.

Vietnamese economists agreed that Viet Nam faced many challenges.

Although the content of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)'s negotiation rounds hasn't been revealed in detail, from agreements signed between the US and other countries, one can see the difficulties and challenges the country must cope with when it joins the TPP, said economist Nguyen Dinh Luong, head of Viet Nam's negotiation delegation at Viet Nam-US Bilateral Trade Agreement.

In an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, he said issues like intellectual property rights protection, business environment, labourers, competition, State enterprises and government procurement required Viet Nam to adjust its laws.

"It is the same for every game, all players must benefit so the game can last a long time. However, if you are stronger you will earn more benefit," he said.

Viet Nam has the weakest economy of the nations involved in TPP negotiation talks.

"Viet Nam's decision to join the TPP is a daring decision that will be a new driving force for the country's development," Luong said.

However, he admitted that Viet Nam will face new challenges as it enters the new playing field.

"We must resolve a range of issues, from building up the legal system to economic management," Luong said.

Vietnamese enterprises have expressed concern about TPP's strict origin of raw materials requirements, as Viet Nam is importing most materials for the garment and footwear-making industry from non-TPP countries.

A Vietnamese economist said the US-proposed intellectual property protection could cause difficulties in Viet Nam, affecting medicine distribution as well as new scientific initiatives.

Ngo Chung Khanh, a policymaker from Viet Nam's Ministry of Trade and Industry, said that despite these concerns, Viet Nam had high expectations that TPP would reform exports and foreign-direct investment. — VNS