Opening the “Kota” – revealing more about TPP in Malaysia

by | Jul 7, 2013 | Uncategorized

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In recent weeks speculation has been rife about what the next round of the TPP negotiations might reveal about progress towards the agreement’s conclusion. This round takes place in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Malaysia’s Sabah state from 15-25 July.

If some reports are to be believed, much of the technical work is complete. Indeed a Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry briefing paper released a week or two ago said 14 out of the 29 chapters are “substantially closed”.

There has also been talk of an “early harvest” being announced at the APEC October meeting. This notion was floated by the Center for Strategic and International Studies’, Matthew Goodman who suggested that announcing the rules for market access, services and government procurement were agreed would not only lend political credibility to the talks, but inject some urgency into concluding the details of access for goods and services and put pressure on the US Congress to renew fast track authority.

A strong counter point to this point of view, one the negotiators themselves make, is that this will undermine the ‘single undertaking’ nature of TPP and make it harder to conclude the final agreement, removing as it would, so much ‘negotiating coin’ from the talks.

Japan will be present for the first time at this meeting and the talks have been extended to allow for their integration, particularly their participation at the final media event. All eyes will be on the Japanese who, while in joining TPP have added enormous additional relevancy to the agreement for its participants, will be carefully watched for signals of sincerity and willingness to open their more sensitive sectors such as agriculture. The rhetoric from senior Japanese business people and Prime Minister Abe has been encouraging.

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