(Asahi: July 8, 2015 – p. 9)
The Japanese and U.S. governments will resume working level talks on the TPP negotiations on July 9. The biggest issue is special import quota for U.S. rice, and coordination is yet to be completed on the reduction of tariff on Japanese auto part exports. Japan and the U.S. have both agreed to work for an overall agreement of the 12 TPP nations before the end of July, so the new round of bilateral talks will be the first litmus test in this process.
Acting Deputy USTR Wendy Cutler and chief negotiator Hiroshi Oe will hold two days of meetings in Tokyo from July 9.
In light of the passage of the U.S. trade promotion authority (TPA) law, coordination is underway to hold a chief negotiators’ meeting of the 12 participating nations around July 23 and a ministerial meeting around July 28 in Hawaii. Japan and the U.S., the leading players in the TPP talks, are aiming at finding “middle ground” between the two countries by then to facilitate an overall agreement.
However, the Japan-U.S. talks are not expected to be easy. TPP Minister Akira Amari told a news conference on July 7 that, “The remaining issues concern sensitive product sectors. We would like to hold a ministerial meeting after a settlement is in sight, but prospects are still uncertain.” (Abridged)