(Yomiuri: July 1, 2015 – p. 11)
A bill granting trade promotion authority (TPA) to President Barack Obama became law on June 29. Japan and the U.S., the leading players in the TPP negotiations, will now work for holding a ministerial meeting of the 12 participating nations in July to reach a basic agreement.
An agreement will only be possible if all 12 nations are able to conclude their negotiations with the other 11 nations. However, Canada is lagging behind in its talks with all other countries, and this has become a cause of concern.
Aside from tariff talks, it will be necessary to decide on economic rules on such matters as investment and market entry.
At a Liberal Democratic Party meeting on the TPP on June 30, a senior official of the government’s TPP headquarters predicted that “intellectual property rights, state-owned enterprises, and two other sectors” will require a political settlement at the TPP ministerial meeting.
A specific issue in dispute is the duration of data protection that will guarantee exclusive marketing rights for biomedicine companies. The U.S., which has many pharmaceutical companies, proposes 12 years, while Japan and Singapore favor eight years. Other countries where inexpensive generic drugs are widely used are demanding five years or shorter. This is regarded to be the biggest obstacle to a TPP agreement. (Abridged)