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Asia Minute: Trade Talks Highlight Regional Priorities

SumOfUs / Flickr
SumOfUs / Flickr

Progress, but no final deal on the Trans Pacific Partnership. That’s the result of several days of talks on Maui involving trade ministers from a dozen countries. In a joint statement, the trade ministers said “We have made significant progress and will continue work on resolving a limited number of remaining issues.”  Those differences have been reflected all week by the media coverage coming from a number of Asia Pacific countries. HPR’s Bill Dorman explains in today’s Asia Minute.

So how are those trade talks going on Maui?  The answer depends on your perspective.  The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation headlined a story about the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks citing “magnificent progress.”  The New Zealand Herald’s headline announced “TPP Deal is Precarious.”  As the talks head into their last scheduled day, media outlets from various countries are highlighting different aspects of the session.

In Australia, several voices in parliament are raising concerns about the potential impact on the national sugar industry.  In New Zealand, one focus is dairy products and increasing market access for its exports.  That same topic is a big worry for Canada where protection of dairy farmers has become a political issue for national elections coming this fall.

Pharmaceuticals are capturing a lot of attention in both Australia and New Zealand.  Patents, pricing, and possible impacts on national health care plans are all raising criticisms.  In Japan, agriculture is a perennial issue in trade talks.  Late this week Kyodo News stressed that negotiators are close to limiting imports of U.S. beef and pork.  One dilemma shared by reporters and editors across the region and around the world: basic information.  The substance of the TPP talks remains a closely-held secret.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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