Japan and the United States are set to work out the working details of the still unsettled issues in the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal in Washington next week, this according to sources from the Japanese government on Thursday. At the heart of these discussions will be Japan’s stubbornness in holding on to tariffs in several farm products, and the US will be fighting to get the working group from Tokyo to concede some of these tariffs.
The TPP members held a ministerial gathering in Singapore last month, and the talks were largely frustrating as conflicts between Japan and the United States – the two biggest economies involved in the talks – kept major agreements from being inked. On the record, it seems that Washington is becoming increasingly frustrated at Tokyo’s insistence on retaining the protective tariffs that it has traditionally levied on inexpensive farm products that compete with its own. The TPP has been vocal about its commitment to the abolition of all tariffs. To resolve this issue, Japan’s Deputy Chief Negotiator Hiroshi Oe and Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday next week with the main purpose of fleshing out tariff removal, according to Japan’s Cabinet Office.
The 12 nation members have already missed their deadline for solidifying a deal by the end of 2013. At the middle of this impasse is the Japan-US spat, and reconciling both countries’ issues is seen by most member nations as the green light that could potentially move the trade pact forward. But economy experts on both sides say that the outlook remains uncertain, especially as both countries are under pressure from very strong lobbies at home not to concede in these issues.
[via Global Post]