Friday, August 23, 2013 The Brunei Times
His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah (R), the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, held an audience yesterday with ministers and heads of delegates from Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) member countries at Istana Nurul Iman. Also present were His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah (2nd R), the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office. Picture: BT/Yusri Adanan
MINISTERS of the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) member countries yesterday commenced the 19th round of discussions on the trade agreement, with focus on, among others, the intellectual property provisions.
Held at the International Convention Centre, the 19th round for the TPP also welcomed Japan as the 12th member of the discussions. Japan joined the TPP towards the end of the 18th round in Malaysia last month.
Akira Amari, Japanese minister in charge of economic revitalisation and minister of state for economic and fiscal policy is in the sultanate for the proceedings.
YB Pehin Orang Kaya Perkerma Dewa Dato Lim Jock Seng, Brunei’s second minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, welcomed TPP ministerial colleagues to the Sultanate and noted that the meeting was a good opportunity to take stock of their current progress.
He said Japan’s inclusion as the 12th member serves to emphasise the significance of the collective undertaking, and hoped that the meeting in Brunei would yield positive results that can be reported to the leaders in the upcoming months.
The TPP ministerial meeting was chaired by United States Trade Representative Michael Froman.
At a press conference the other day, Froman had expressed hope that negotiations for the trade pact would be concluded by the end of the year.
The 19th round is set to run until August 31.
Brunei’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MoFAT) stated that there would be a stakeholder dialogue on the morning of August 27, to be held in "a leading hotel in Jerudong".
"The dialogue will include a number of presentations by various stakeholders from TPP countries and provide an opportunity for stakeholders to engage directly with negotiators," it stated.
MoFAT added that YB Pehin Dato Lim held a bilateral meeting with Japan’s Amari to exchange views on trade and economic relations between the sultanate and Japan, ASEAN and Japan and "matters related to the TPP negotiations".
Intellectual property is one of the most contentious issues in the trade pact, with some members of the partnership expressing concern over how protection of medical patents would affect access to more affordable generic drugs.
The TPP is being negotiated by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.
Debbie Too The Brunei Times