GUAM – The 12 countries engaged in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks have given up on holding a ministerial meeting in Guam, informed sources said.
They dropped the plan for the meeting on the broad free trade accord because it is uncertain whether the U.S. Congress will approve legislation on Trade Promotion Authority, which would give President Barack Obama fast-track authority to negotiate trade deals.
The countries wanted to seal the broad TPP agreement by holding a ministerial meeting after their chief negotiators spoke in Guam on Saturday. But in the absence of TPA, most countries are refraining from political decisions, the sources said Wednesday.
Chief negotiators were holding intensive talks Wednesday on the thornier issues of the deal, such as intellectual property rights. They were to narrow down the matters to be discussed by ministers by Monday, ahead of a potential ministerial meeting on Tuesday, the sources said.
The chief negotiators’ talks may be extended because of stalled discussions on such matters as protection periods for patents on medicines, with some members aggrieved by the United States’ lack of compromise, the sources said.
Since the nations intend to show their final cards at a concluding meeting, as TPP minister Akira Amari has said, they are likely to arrange a ministerial meeting for June or later after being assured of the passage of the TPA legislation.