A Spoiled Deal: How a Dispute Over Dairy Helped Sidetrack the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been on many people’s minds lately, especially Canadian voters who are preparing to go to the polls on Oct. 19. The massive trade pact includes 12 countries at different stages of economic development, covering some 40% of the world’s economy. It is being negotiated in secret, without consultation from lawmakers in the nations signing on, let alone the citizens of those nations.

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were hoping to push the deal through before the October election, but they now know this won’t happen. As reported by multiple sources, the last round of talks in Hawaii ended in failure over what many commentators called “minor issues.” The setback was good news for global opponents of the trade pact, who know that upcoming elections – not only in Canada but also in Japan and especially in the United States – could derail the TPP, perhaps permanently, depending who gets elected in each of these countries.

As Reuters reported in the aftermath of the Hawaii talks, key points holding up the negotiations included a dispute between the US and Japan over auto parts production, and the fact that negotiators couldn’t reach agreement about the length of new drug patents. The deal-breaker, however, seems to have been dairy products: specifically, a fight between two countries with relatively small populations, Canada and New Zealand.


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