No further progress made with Japan on TPP talks

USTR reports minister meeting with Japan didn't result in any progress on reducing Japan's stance on sensitive products.

U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman, Japanese Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy Akira Amari and their teams met on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the outstanding issues in their bilateral Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, focusing on agriculture and autos. 

“While there were constructive working level discussions over the weekend, we were unable to make further progress on the key outstanding issues,” USTR said in a statement.

USTR added, “The United States continues to demonstrate a commitment to the level of ambition that all TPP countries agreed to attain when they entered negotiations.”

Both sides will consider next steps following consultations in both capitals, the statement said.

The TPP is a regional trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim countries, including Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States, which account for nearly 40% of global GDP.

Japan’s current TPP market access offer that exempts rice, wheat, beef and pork, dairy products and sugar from tariff elimination, but has been seen as unacceptable to the U.S. agricultural community.

If Japan is allowed exemptions, other TPP countries could pull back on both market access and rules, which would significantly diminish the benefits of the entire agreement and set a terrible precedent for future trade agreements, warned the National Pork Producers Council.

Last week Robert Holleyman, deputy U.S. Trade Representative nominee, was approved this week by the Senate. Holleyman, a former software industry executive, will oversee China, South and Central Asia, intellectual property and services trade. Former Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis stepped down from the position in 2013 to enter the private sector, leaving the vacancy that Holleyman has been selected to fill.

Wendy Cutler has been the acting deputy U.S. Trade Representative in the interim, and it is reported that she will remain in that position, overseeing TPP discussions. NPPC said it looks forward to working with Holleyman and to continue working with Cutler in a joint effort to achieve a high-standard TPP agreement for U.S. pork producers.

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