TPP talks pushed to 2014 as Singapore negotiations fail

Hopes of reaching a conclusion on the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Singapore have been dashed as negotiators push to hold more meetings next month.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor

Negotiation talks over the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have failed to result in an agreement between the affected 12 nations, pushing the issue beyond the original expectation that it would be finalised by the end of this year.

A statement from the Office of the US Trade Representative notes that negotiators made "substantial progress towards completing the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement" and "identified 'potential landing zones' for the majority of key outstanding issues", but ultimately, additional work is required. This has resulted in the negotiators needing to meet again next month, further dragging out the issue.

Earlier this week, confidential draft TPP documents published on WikiLeaks showed that the US and other TPP nations are divided over intellectual property (IP) proposals sought by the US.

While the TPP covers a broad range of trade agreements, such as those around pharmaceutical access, the IP chapters are of significance to the IT industry and internet service providers.

Critics of the agreement state that Australians could be stiffed with significant new penalties if caught sharing copyright-infringing material online, and ISPs may potentially face new obligations to enforce copyright for the rights holders.

The agreement between Australia, the US, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore also has the potential to include other countries in the future.

The issue is compounded by the fact that much of the agreement itself has not been made public, with those seeking independent transparency needing to find leaked documents.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has stated that this is simply standard practice when negotiating international agreements, but the opposition Labor party has now called upon the new Coalition government to release the draft texts. The former Labor government would have also had access to the drafts during its tenure.

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