Japan, US agree to continue cooperation for sealing TPP

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Tokyo and Washington have been at odds over how to deal with tariffs that Japan seeks to retain on five farm product categories it regards as sensitive, hampering the whole negotiations.

Kyodo News International | January 25, 2014

Japan, U.S. agree to continue cooperation for sealing TPP

Japan and the United States have agreed to continue to work closely for an early conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations, the Japanese trade minister said after meeting Saturday with the U.S. trade chief on the fringes of the economic forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said he urged Washington to show more flexibility during his meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

Froman called for both sides to do so, Motegi told a press conference.

The 12 TPP countries bordering the Pacific Ocean have been struggling to seal a pact at an early date after missing a much-touted 2013 deadline for an agreement at their last ministerial meeting in December in Singapore.

Tokyo and Washington have been at odds over how to deal with tariffs that Japan seeks to retain on five farm product categories it regards as sensitive, hampering the whole negotiations as the U.S.-led TPP aims to abolish all tariffs.

Japan’s farm minister Yoshimasa Hayashi also met separately with Froman, and said they discussed tariffs on the five sensitive farm product categories — rice, wheat, beef and pork, dairy products, sugar. He declined to elaborate.

The U.S. government, which hopes an outcome can be reached before midterm elections in November, is proposing convening the next 12-country ministerial meeting in late February, but it has yet to be confirmed.

TPP nations initially sought to hold such a meeting in January, but decided to delay it as there was little possibility of overcoming huge gaps among members over such issues as tariffs, intellectual property rights as well as reform of state-owned firms.

— Kyodo

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source: Kyodo