[A2k] FT: TPP US attacks Japan's stance on Trans-Pacific Partnership

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Fri Apr 4 03:34:56 PDT 2014

April 3, 2014 6:56 pm

US attacks Japan's stance on Trans-Pacific Partnership

By Barney Jopson in Washington and Shawn Donnan in London

The 12-country trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership
often called the economic backbone of President Barack Obama's "pivot" to
Asia and is a centrepiece of the president's trade agenda.

But negotiations have stalled since last December owing to the failure of
the US and Japan to agree on provisions that would make it easier for US
businesses to sell their products in Japan.

The two countries have been trying to bridge their differences before Mr
Obama travels to Japan later this month, but Mr Froman's comments indicate
that they remain far apart.

Japan wants to maintain - or phase out slowly - tariffs on five
agricultural products including rice, beef, and pork that it has declared
"sacred". The two countries also disagree on what is needed for the three
big US carmakers to compete on a level playing field with Toyota, Nissan
and others.

At a congressional hearing on Thursday, Mr Froman, the US trade
representative, said he had told Japan that it was not living up to its
commitment to help create a "high-standard, ambitious, comprehensive"

"This isn't an issue of us needing to be more flexible. We're being plenty
creative in trying to come up with ways to ensure comprehensive market
access to Japan that addresses political sensitivities as well," he said.

"It's time for Japan to step up to the plate. That's not just our view it's
the view of all the TPP countries."

While US companies have also attacked Canada
resisting tariff cuts in sensitive sectors, Mr Froman said Canada was
waiting to see what Japan would do.

Asked if he expected to be able to complete the trade deal this year, he
said: "Very much so. We're focused on working around the clock to get this
done as soon as possible."

Dave Camp, the Republican chairman of a House of

Representatives committee that handles trade, told Mr Froman that if a
country was not willing to support an ambitious trade deal, then "we should
complete TPP without that country and allow it to join later, if and when
it is ready to make the necessary commitments".

Since the last gathering of TPP ministers
Singapore in late February negotiators from the US and Japan have engaged
in a series of meetings to try to break the deadlock.

Mr Obama and Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, also met on the
sidelines of a nuclear summit in the Hague last week.

According to Japanese reports, they set a goal at that meeting to try to
secure a "broad
the TPP by the time Mr Obama goes to Japan as part of an Asian tour this

Negotiations with Japan are not the only thing holding up the TPP. They
also have been complicated by US domestic politics with senior Democrats
blocking a bill to give Mr Obama so-called "fast track" negotiating
authority, which is seen by some other TPP countries' negotiators as
crucial to finalising a deal.

Besides the US and Japan the TPP includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile,
Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.

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