Chief negotiators from Japan and the 10 other participants in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact will hold talks in Sydney, Australia, for three days from Aug. 28 through 30. With an eye to reaching a basic agreement on the TPP at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November, Japan will join hands with the other participants in Sydney to create a revised draft that will prompt the U.S. to return to the pact.
At the Sydney meeting, each country will raise items it wants to be revised in the trade investment rules agreed by the 12 nations. The participating countries are expected to seek revisions to items they were pressured by the U.S. to compromise on.
One item which is highly likely to be amended is the data exclusivity period for biologics, which was set in effect at eight years. The U.S., which sought to protect the profits of pharmaceutical companies, insisted on a long period of protection. But many emerging nations are calling for the period to be shortened because inexpensive generic drugs cannot be produced during the period.
By agreeing in advance that the period, if it were shortened, would be reverted to eight years should the U.S. return to the pact, Japan aims to create a framework that will make the U.S. think that it is “more beneficial to return” to the trade deal.
It is also expected that some countries will call for revisions to the rules on which they compromised at the insistence of the U.S., such as the reform of state-owned enterprises.
There is no plan to amend tariff rates for individual items.
The Japanese government has drastically changed staffing at its TPP headquarters since July. It appointed Kazuyoshi Umemoto, former director-general of the North American Affairs Bureau at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), as chief negotiator. In August, it assigned Atsuyuki Oike, former deputy chief of mission at the Japanese embassy in Washington, to the post of deputy chief negotiator. From May, the government has also increased the number of staff members at the TPP headquarters at the Cabinet Secretariat by about 50% to 30.