New Zealand drove negotiations on access for its dairy products down to the wire overnight as the 12 Trans Pacific Partnership Ministers meeting in Atlanta raced to complete their five year long talks to create the world’s largest trade bloc.

Talks wrapped up at 5.00 a.m. (Atlanta time) and Trade Minister Tim Groser confirmed it was the dairy issue that was the last to be agreed.

Mr Groser said the agreement would in the long run lead to the complete elimination of traiffs on everything New Zealand exported.

But tarrifs would remain on beef exports to Japan and “some” dairy products.

The beef deal will see tariffs drop from the current 40% to 9% over 15 years.

However Mr Groser said it was “unquestionably positive” for New Zealand dairy farmers.

He told POLITIK specific gains included:

  • The elimination of all tariffs on cheese to Japan in the “very, very long term”.
  • The elimination of one critical cheese tariff into the US in the long term
  • the elimination of tariffs on infant formula into the US in 10 years.
“Where there is not full elimination of tariffs on dairy products we will have quota expansion which varies form very, very small and very, very slow to quite interesting,” he said.

And on controversial proposals to extend the patent life for biolgoic drugs, Mr Groser said New Zealand and Australia had a major victory and as far as New Zealand was concerned nothing would change.

He said pharmaceutical legal experts from Australia and New Zealand in Atlanta confirmed New Zealand would not ahve to change it settings at all.

Mr Groser said the Prime Minister’s visit to New york had played a role in the poltiics of the endgame for New Zealand.


“But it’s not something I can talk about,” he said.

But this morning John Key, said the agreement would  eliminate tariffs on 93 per cent of New Zealand’s exports to the TPP nations.

“Dairy exporters will have access to these markets through newly created quotas, in addition to tariff elimination on a number of products,” he said.

“Tariffs on all other New Zealand exports to TPP countries will be eliminated, with the exception of beef exports to Japan, where tariffs will reduce significantly.

“We’re disappointed there wasn’t agreement to eliminate all dairy tariffs but overall it’s a very good deal for New Zealand,” Mr Key said.

“The overall benefit of TPP to New Zealand is estimated to be at least $2.7 billion a year by 2030.

“Many concerns raised previously about TPP are not reflected in the final agreement. For example, consumers will not pay more for subsidised medicines as a result of TPP and the PHARMAC model will not change.”

The detailed text of the agreement is yet to be concluded. That is expected within the next few days.

But  an outline released by the United States Trade Representative contains the controversial International Dispute Settlement clauses and says they will apply “with few specific exceptions”.

However Mr Groser said one of the exceptions that had been included was tobacco. Thus New Zealand would be immune from ISDS action if it proceeded to plain packaging dor tobacco products.

However he would not comment on whether New Zealand had secured an exception to allow future Governments to legislate against land sales to foreigners.

That is one of Labour’s conditions for supporting the agreement and he said he wantd to talk to them first before he commented.

The Ministers at a concluding press conference in Atlanta were praising the agreement as an ambitious, comprehensive, high standard  21st century trade agreement which would embrace 40% of the world’s economy.

Mr Groser said it was inconceivable that the TPP bus would stop at Atlanta.

“Other people will join the agreement,” he said.

Malaysia’s Trade Minister, Mustapa Mohamed, said it was open for China to be aprt of the agreement.

And Japan’s TPP MInister, Akiria Amari, said there were multiple countries in the queue to join the agreement.

The Ministers did not divulge any detail about their complex negotiaitons on biologic drugs. New Zealand has been part of a small group of countries led by Australia who opposed United States demand to stretch out patent protection for these drugs to 10 years.

Australia’s Trade Minister Andrew Robb confirmed suggestions that the issue had been solved by agreeing to different regimes in different countries.