Since Japan will only be able to participate for three days in the July round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, the objective for this time is for the 100-member team to just understand what has been accomplished so far. Afterwards, they can strategize in preparation for the next round of talks in August with the other 11 countries participating in the free trade negotiations.
The talks begin at Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia on Monday, July 15 and will last until July 25. But Japan will only be allowed to participate on 23rd due to US government procedures that will end that day. So the team to be sent by the government, plus four representatives including head of the Liberal Democratic Party’s TPP committee Koya Nishikawa, will not be introducing concrete arguments yet. They would have to go through thousands of pages of the summary of negotiations so far, and for the final days of the talk, Japan will be the focus as other nations explain what has been done so far.
Once the team has been fully updated, only then will the government start strategizing for the next round of talks to be held late August this year. The LDP and other concerned players will be focusing on five important agricultural products that they want to preserve the tariffs: rice, wheat, beef and pork, dairy products, and sweetener crops like sugar cane. They plan to present concrete proposals in the next round which is the 19th of the TPP talks. As of the last meeting, the TPP focused on getting a “liberation rate” (proportion of products that will eliminate tariffs within 10 years) of 98%. If Japan will maintain the tariffs on the five products, the rate will only be 94%, so the government would have to prioritize which of those are to remain in their proposal and strategy.
The original plan for the TPP was to conclude negotiations by this year, but due to a lot of unresolved issues over the tariffs, they would probably extend to 2014. The talks span a total of 29 areas, which includes “commodity market access” (covering tariffs) and “intellectual property” (covers rules to control piracy and counterfeiting). So far, only 14 areas have been settled, according to host country Malaysia.
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