Despite the failure of the latest Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks in Hawaii, a conclusion of the potentially world-changing trade pact remains on the cards over the next 12 months, said former U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk.
"I've been in these negotiations and I know the worst thing to do is to put an artificial timeline on it," Kirk, the former Democratic mayor of Dallas and once America's chief trade negotiator, said in an exclusive interview with CNBC at the weekend.
"But at the same time, I'm cautiously optimistic there's enough self-interest from each of the countries involved. There [will be] so much to be gained if we can get this done and put into place [over] the next 12 months," the 61–year-old who was the U.S. trade representative from 2009 to 2013, said. During his four years at the helm, Kirk focused mainly on U.S.' trade policies such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and TPP treaties.
Held from July 28-31 on the island of Maui, the TPP negotiations fell short of a deal due to clashes over dairy and automotive trade, as well as a standoff over biologic drugs made from living cells, Reuters reported, citing sources involved in the talks. According to the newswire, the sticking point on autos related to the rules on deciding the origin of cars, which would impact whether a car was subject to duties. On drugs, the U.S. wants the data used to create biologic drugs protected for 12 years, while other countries argued for less.
A TPP pact – the partnership involves 12 nations: United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam – would create a "mega-regional" bloc with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $28 trillion, according to Reuters. That will make a TPP pact the most sweeping trade deal in a generation and a legacy-defining achievement for U.S. President Barack Obama, whose administration has been advocating a pivot to Asia.