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Japan, U.S. make progress on second day of TPP ministerial talks; issues remain

  • 2015-07-31 15:00:00
  • , Yomiuri
  • Translation

(Yomiuri: July 31, 2015 – p. 11)

 

 By Yuya Yokobori, Kunihiko Yasue in Hawaii

 

 The TPP ministerial meeting held its second day of discussions on July 29 (July 30 in Japan). The plenary session participated in by all 12 nations focused on the main sticking point, intellectual property. Bilateral talks on tariff and other issues also took place simultaneously. Japan and the U.S. were able to achieve some progress, but tough issues remain in some other sectors. Tension is expected to remain high in the negotiations until the final day of the meeting on July 31.

 

 All the TPP nations think that it is still too early to show their hand. The plenary session is expected to reach a critical stage on the third day, July 30 (July 31 in Japan). Japan, the U.S., and others hope to achieve a political settlement on the issues of intellectual property with regard to the development of new drugs, preferential treatment for state-owned enterprises, and so forth.

 

 The TPP nations are giving priority to resolving tariffs and other issues in bilateral talks, without which an overall TPP agreement will not be possible.

 

 TPP Minister Akira Amari held separate talks with the ministers of seven countries in two days – including the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, and Mexico. He was able to clinch a deal on expanding Japanese beef exports to the U.S. with USTR Michael Froman on July 28.

 

 While deals on the expansion of U.S. rice imports and tariff abolition for Japanese cars have been put off to July 30 or later, the two countries are making steady progress toward an agreement.

 

 Amari said that “agreements have been reached in several bilateral talks,” indicating progress has also been made in tariff talks with countries other than the U.S.

 

 Amari’s session with New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser was characterized by heated exchanges. According to a Japanese government source, New Zealand demanded the expansion of dairy product imports at a level way above Japan’s expectation. Amari stated furiously: “We might as well stop negotiating if that’s what you’re going to talk about.”

 

 Ministerial talks did not take place with Canada, which has been behind in its negotiations. A source on the TPP talks observed, “Canada is just beginning to get started at long last. I’m not sure if they will make it in time before the last day of the meeting.” (Slightly abridged)

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