Despite “tense discussions” on several issues regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, a meeting between Akira Amari, Japan’s minister in charge of the negotiations and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman failed to reach any concrete conclusion. Amari also said there is very little possibility that Japan will concede on the hot button issues that they were discussing.
The meeting was also attended by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and farm minister Yoshimasa Hayashi while U.S. ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy was also present for the U.S. side. They focused on the issue of tariffs on farm products, with Japan looking at retaining their existing tariffs on five farm product categories, which includes rice, but the United States is keen on abolishing all of it. The other countries participating in the free trade talks have been encouraging Japan to open their agricultural market to the rest of the world. However, domestic pressure, particularly from the agricultural sector might make it impossible for Japan to reach that point. Toshimitsu Motegi, minister for Economy, Trade and Industry, also met with Froman told reporters that the Japanese government has done its best to make concessions on other “contentious” issues on products that have been deemed “sensitive” and is now asking the U.S. to show “flexibility.” He is “confident” that they will be able to reach a compromise on the remaining issues.
The 12 Pacific Rim countries that are part of the TPP are looking at reaching a final deal by the end of the year, but the differences between the United States, which is leading the talks, and Japan, might make it impossible to do so. A ministerial meeting is set for December 7-10 in Singapore, where they will probably give the negotiations another go. Meanwhile, the Cabinet Office announced on Monday that Amari will be hospitalized from 3-4 days to undergo several tests. No further details were given as to the nature of his illness.
[ via Global Post ]