New Zealand has been visited by representatives of three aspirant countries as part of the TPP membership process.
Membership was also discussed by TPP Chief Negotiators at the recent Melbourne round.
In November 2011, Canada, Japan and Mexico each expressed interest in joining TPP.
Their interest was welcomed by all nine current TPP participants, who share the longer-term goal of expanding TPP to other economies across the region. This would progress the vision of APEC Leaders and the objective of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).
Officials from Canada, officials from Japan, and the Secretary of the Economy from Mexico travelled to New Zealand for separate discussions during February.
Discussions are expected to continue over coming months as each aspirant is considered on its individual merits by New Zealand and other TPP participants.
New Zealand is keen to ensure that any expansion of membership does not result in a dilution of the high-quality objectives set out in TPP Leaders’ announcements in the margins of APEC 2011, particularly around comprehensive market access through the elimination of tariffs and other barriers to goods and services trade and investment. Neither do we want the pace of the current negotiations to slow if new members join.
This approach reflects the views of New Zealand stakeholders as expressed in the recent public submissions process about the aspirants as potential members of TPP.
Once all bilateral consultations have concluded, a consensus decision by the TPP group at Ministerial level is needed to expand the membership.