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TPP comes to standstill as U.S. puts off second vote on fast-track related bill

  • 2015-06-17 15:00:00
  • , Nikkei
  • Translation

(Nikkei: June 17, 2015 – p. 2)

 

 The U.S. House of Representatives agreed on June 15 to postpone the deadline for a second vote on a trade promotion authority (TPA) related bill to July 30. The uncertainty over when the vote will take place will no doubt cause a significant delay in efforts to finalize negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact, which is stoking concerns within the Japanese government.

 

 TPP negotiations made progress in many fields when chief negotiators from the 12 participating countries met in Guam in May. They are in the final stage of reaching a basic agreement, with decisions concerning intellectual property and several other issues being left in the hands of their ministers.

 

 The 12 countries initially planned to hold a ministerial meeting soon after the U.S. Congress passed the TPA legislation package. It remains unknown when a second vote will take place, which makes it highly likely that a ministerial meeting will be pushed back after July.

 

 The TPP members are growing jittery, as they fear there could be little time left [to clinch a deal]. Even if they reach a basic agreement, it takes at least three months to draft official documents that they can sign.

 

 The U.S. politics will move into a presidential campaign season as 2016 sets in. Fears are rife that the enactment of legislation needed to enforce the TPP may be shelved. “If we calculate backward, we must hold a ministerial meeting in July,” said a source familiar with the TPP negotiations.

 

 Slow deliberations on the TPA legislation in the U.S. Congress have stymied TPP negotiations since the beginning of the year. Anxiety is building up among the 11 members except the U.S. that a momentum for finalizing TPP talks will be dampened as they are at the mercy of the U.S. Congress.

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