Japan and United States officials called off their last-ditch effort meeting to try to resolve the tariff differences in their Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations before President Barack Obama leaves for the rest of his Asian tour. They were trying to meet for the fourth time in three days to find a compromise over the pending issues that have stalled the finalization of the 13-country TPP pact.
The meeting between Akira Amari, Japan’s minister for economic policy and Michael Froman, the US Trade Representative was cancelled, but the working-level discussions between Hiroshi Oe, Japan’s deputy chief negotiator for the TPP and Wendy Cutler, acting deputy U.S. trade representative, continued past midnight on Thursday. However, they were still unable to find common ground on the matter of pork and cars. Amari and Froman’s Thursday meeting failed to settle the differences, although the former said they were able to have “considerable progress.”
Despite having a busy three-day visit to Japan, Obama’s administration refused to issue yet the standard summit communique until the TPP talks wrap up. An unnamed Japanese official says the US has “taken the joint statement hostage,” hoping that this would make Tokyo consider compromising on the pork issue. The local pork producers are protected by a tariff scheme that imposes a higher penalty on the cheaper imported meat. Washington wants Tokyo to go lower than their proposed 100 yen tariff, as compared to the current 482 yen per kilo. Regarding automobiles, the US is asking Japan to lower their safety requirements to enable American-made cars to freely enter the market.
[ via Nikkei ]