Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Government plays down TPP problems after leak and US setback

Trade Minister Tim Groser. Photo / NZPA
Trade Minister Tim Groser. Photo / NZPA

Trade Minister Tim Groser is trying to downplay the problems facing the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks after the latest leaking of a contentious chapter and a hiccup in President Barack Obama's plans to get a deal passed smoothly by Congress.

Three previous versions of the intellectual property chapter have been leaked in the past. The latest leak, by WikiLeaks and revealed in yesterday's Herald by Nicky Hager, was from the August round of negotiations.

It showed a gulf between the United States and many of the other 12 countries including New Zealand. Among the contested issues are medicines, copyright and parallel importing.

Mr Groser repeated assurances that Pharmac, New Zealand's state drug-buying agency, was "non-negotiable".

He said there were "wonderful upsides" to the deal and it would lift exports by about $5 billion a year.

The leak followed a setback on Wednesday for President Obama.

His Trade Representative, Mike Froman, has been working behind the scenes on a plan to get congressional support for a deal to be fast-tracked under Trade Promotion Authority provisions, meaning it could be approved or rejected by the House and Senate, but could not be changed.

Two letters sent by members of Congress to President Obama this week suggest that there is major opposition to TPA, especially in the House of Representatives.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman said if the President could not get fast-track authority, the deal would have to be "more anti-New Zealand" to get congressional approval.

NZ First's Winston Peters asked why the public had to rely on WikiLeaks for "the truth of what is going on with the secretive deal".

- NZ Herald

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