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TPP Agreement Only By End April,says TFCTN Head
SINGAPORE, Feb 24 (Bernama) -- The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) member countries will only be able to conclude the free trade agreement by end April, says Dr Deborah Elms, Head, Temasek Foundation Centre for Trade & Negotiations (TFCTN).
"But even if they concluded by April, no one will see the text of the agreement.
"I don't think until the end of this year or in early 2015 as it takes a long time for the lawyers to do what's called "legal scrubbing"," she told Bernama on the sidelines of the ongoing TPP Ministerial Meeting here.
Elms is also a Senior Fellow of International Political Economy at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
She said it will also take a long time for the translation of the text.
"So, there will be a gap between when the negotiations largely conclude and seeing the actual text of this agreement.
"That's true with any negotiations in a free trade agreement ..there is a gap between when you finish and actually seeing the agreement," she added.
She said the number of hours they (the ministers) have actually met has been limited so far.
"I think we are expecting too much too soon. This is really complicated negotiations and only the second time that the trade ministers have given their personal time and attention in a sustained way to the negotiations.
"The Ministers are really trying to deal with complicated, sensitive and interlocking issues. So, trying to solve what is really a complicated puzzle takes time. It is going to be very difficult for them to reach an agreement and to do so very quickly is challenging," she added.
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministerial Meeting started in Singapore last Saturday with the hope of covering both new and traditional trade and investment issues.
Trade Ministers and officials from Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the United States, Vietnam and Singapore are here for the four-day meeting.
Malaysia is represented by Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
The last ministerial meeting was held in the republic last December, where ministers discussed the potential way forward for many outstanding issues in the text.
Besides tackling issues such as trade liberalisation in goods, services, investments, and government procurement, the TPP includes areas such as intellectual property rights, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, competition policy, labour and environment.
It will also incorporate new trade facilitation elements, such as the promotion of regulatory coherence, enhancement of cross-border supply chain connectivity and the facilitation of small and medium enterprises among TPP members.
The TPP also serves as a possible pathway to a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific.
The 12 TPP countries represent a large market, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of global GDP and about one-third of world trade.
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