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Exclusion of Canada emerges as scenario for reaching TPP agreement

  • 2015-07-15 15:00:00
  • , Asahi
  • Translation

(Asahi: July 15, 2015 – p. 7)


 By Daisuke Igarashi in Washington; Go Kobayashi, Hitoshi Kujiraoka in Tokyo


 Exclusion of Canada, which has been making the least progress in tariff negotiations among the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) participants, has quickly emerged as a scenario for reaching an agreement. However, Canada’s dropping out may skew the balance in the talks so far, such as resulting in tougher demands on Japan. Coordination for reaching an agreement before the end of July is becoming increasingly complicated.


 TPP Minister Akira Amari remarked on a recorded BS-11 TV program aired on July 14: “A majority of the countries have completed their preparations. It is better to reach an agreement for now and let the countries that are behind join later.” He indicated that priority will be given to reaching an agreement at the TPP ministerial meeting to be held in Hawaii from July 28 even at the expense of excluding some countries. A government source lamented to reporters that “Canada and New Zealand are the biggest headaches.”


 Japan and the U.S. have begun to talk about excluding Canada because the stalemate in Canada’s negotiations may slow down talks with other countries.


 For example, New Zealand is insisting on expanding dairy product exports to the U.S., Canada, Japan, and other countries. However, there has been little progress in tariff talks on dairy products between Canada and the U.S., so New Zealand is unable to hold direct talks with Canada and Japan.


 If there is no change in the situation before the ministerial meeting starts on July 28, New Zealand will not be able to show its hand in the 12-nation talks on intellectual property, which remains a sticking point. There is concern that this may cause an overall agreement to be put off. Amari says that “if this opportunity is missed, the TPP is at risk of going adrift.”


 Even if Canada drops out from the negotiations, the conditions are not necessarily ripe for the remaining participants to reach an overall agreement. New Zealand is still expected to make strong demands for expanding dairy product exports to Japan, the U.S., and other countries, which it had hoped to achieve with Canada.


 Japan has had to make emergency imports to deal with the butter shortage for two consecutive years now, so it is “not in a position to resist,” according to a source on the talks.


 However, a Japanese government source reckons that Canada and New Zealand “have no intention to drop out” of the TPP because they will only lose the opportunity to expand exports. The sudden suggestion of excluding Canada may well be a pickoff throw from Japan and the U.S. (Slightly abridged)

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