Japan and the United States have agreed to continue their discussions and finalize the last few remaining issues in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks. Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi met with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Forman last weekend while the two were in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.
Motegi reportedly asked Washington through Froman to extend flexibility when discussing the free trade talks, specifically regarding certain agricultural products, to finally reach an end to the negotiations among the twelve countries involved. Froman was said to have responded that both nations must extend the same flexibility in order to arrive at a fair agreement. The twelve TPP countries from the Pacific region failed to finalize the agreement at a meeting in Singapore last December 2013. Both Tokyo and Washington have issues regarding tariffs as the U.S. seeks to remove tariffs on all trade items while Japan wishes to keep it on five “sacred” products – rice, wheat, barley, beef and pork, sugar and starch and other dairy products. Farm minister Yoshimasa Hayashi also met with Froman to discuss the details of the tariffs on the five categories mentioned.
While the TPP nations planned on meeting this January to resume discussions, it was moved to a later date in February to give the nations included a chance to meet internally and set the issue of the tariffs. No date has been confirmed yet for the next TPP assembly. The U.S. meanwhile hopes to reach a conclusion before the midterms elections later this year in November.
[ via Jiji Press ]