Trade Ministers from 12 Pacific Rim countries left Hawaii this weekend, unable to reach a deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The Trans-Pacific Partnership delegates were unable to resolve issues around pharmaceuticals, cars and dairy as well as other sticking points.
New Zealand in particular has been pushing hard for the opening of diary markets, which other countries have been resistant to.
New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser was optimistic however, despite leaving Maui with no final deal.
“The undergrowth has been cleared away in the course of this meeting in a manner that I would say is streets ahead of any of the other ministerial meetings that we have had,” he said.
For its part, the U.S. is standing firm on protecting U.S. pharmaceutical patents, an issue on which they are at odds with other nations party to TPP.
“The U.S. was on one side of the issue, while practically every other country were on the other side,” a source from a non-U.S. negotiation nation told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “Neither side was prepared to move and all claimed it as a red line issue.”
TPP, which is the largest trade deal in history, has been fiercely opposed by some members of Congress here in the U.S., with some claiming that the Obama is pushing a deal that will hurt American workers.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D.-MA) has been vociferous in her opposition.
“I actually have had supporters of the deal say to me, ‘They have to be secret, because if the American people knew what was actually in them, they would be opposed,” she said.
President Obama has pushed for and has gained fast-track authority for TPP. Meaning that Congress can only give the final deal a “yes” or “no” vote and will have no chance to review or amend it.
Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has had perhaps the strongest arguments against TPP.
[Australian Broadcasting Corporation][CBC]
“Bad trade deals like the proposed Transpacific Partnership are a major reason for the collapse of the American middle class and the increase in wealth and income inequality in the United States. This agreement, like bad trade deals before it, would force American workers to compete with desperate workers around the world – including workers in Vietnam where the minimum wage is 56-cents an hour,” he said. “Trade agreements should not just work for corporate America, Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry,” he continued.