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TPP 11 in final coordination to freeze 22 items in bid to sign accord in early March

  • January 18, 2018
  • , Sankei , Lead story
  • JMH Translation

The TPP 11 have begun final coordination to add two other items, out of the four pending issues from their last meeting, to the 20 items they had previously decided to “freeze” last November, bringing the total number of items to be frozen to 22, sources informed Sankei on Jan. 17. These two items will be “frozen” until the U.S. returns to the TPP. The remaining two items – Vietnam’s demand regarding labor and Canada’s demand on cultural policy – will not be frozen.

 

Four pending issues for TPP 11

 

To be frozen

  • Procedures for gradual restriction of preferential treatment for state-owned oil companies
  • Review of investment rules for the coal industry

Not to be frozen

  • System for other countries to penalize violation of labor rules with trade sanctions
  • Exception to investment rules for the promotion of native culture and implementation of cultural policy

 

20 items TPP 11 already decided to freeze

 

Pertaining to intellectual property rules

Certain provisions on non-discrimination against foreigners in the protection of intellectual property

Rules on granting patents to new uses of existing materials and plant-derived discoveries

Extension of patents in cases of substantial delay in the patent certification process

Extension of patents in cases of substantial delay in approval process for sale of pharmaceuticals

Protection of non-disclosure data for new pharmaceutical products

De facto eight-year data protection period for biologics

70-year copyright protection for films, music, novels, and other publications

Penalty for removing music software copy protection and sale of such devices

Penalty for tampering with information on the author and so forth embedded in creative work

Penalty for sale of devices for removing viewing restrictions for satellite and cable TV

Provisions on liability exemption for Internet service providers in cases of infringement of copyright

Other items

Review by national governments of coverage of zero tariff for urgent transport of small amounts of goods

Dispute settlement procedures at the stage of applying for investment permit

Ban on postal services operators‘ abuse of their monopolistic position in delivery services

Certain provisions on dispute settlement between financial service businesses and the state

Request for review when the interests of telecommunications operators are compromised by government decisions

Promotion of workers’ interests in government procurement of goods and services

Certain provisions on the ban on illegal trade in wildlife

Fair implementation of procedures for claiming insurance for pharmaceuticals and medical equipment

 

If no objections are voiced at the chief negotiators’ meeting taking place in Tokyo in late January, the agreement will be finalized for signing by the participating nations as soon as early March.

 

The two additional items to be frozen pertain to procedures for gradual restriction of preferential treatment for state-owned oil companies and review of investment rules for the coal industry. Freezing was demanded by Malaysia and Brunei, respectively.

 

On the other hand, Vietnam demanded freezing the system for other countries to penalize violation of labor rules with trade sanctions and other measures, but this was opposed by Mexico.

 

In order to resolve this issue, Minister of Economic Revitalization Toshimitsu Motegi, who is in charge of TPP, visited Vietnam in December and Mexico in early January to present compromise proposals to the two countries. He stated at a news conference on Jan. 12 that “the gap is not unbridgeable.” This issue is expected to be resolved by attaching a separate appendix to the accord to be drawn up by the affected countries.

 

Canada is also demanding the expansion of the “cultural exception” that will allow restriction of foreign investments for the preservation of native culture as an exception. This does not have the support of the other participants, so coordination is underway to reject the demand to freeze this item.

 

However, there is concern that if Canada reacts strongly, TPP accord signing might be delayed significantly. Japan, as the host country, is making frantic efforts to persuade Canada, but if Canada refuses to compromise, it is also looking at the possibility of signing the agreement without Canada.

 

The TPP 11 reached a broad agreement on the new accord at a foreign ministerial in Vietnam last November. While they agreed to freeze 20 items, including the question of copyright protection period in light of the U.S.’s withdrawal, they decided to carry over four items to the next meeting.

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