WASHINGTON – Japan is unlikely to be allowed to fully participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks in late July due to U.S. congressional procedures, senior vice minister in charge of economic and fiscal policy Yasutoshi Nishimura indicated.
Speaking to reporters in Washington on Tuesday, Nishimura said, “We hope to secure a place where we can hold discussions properly, even a day or two.”
His remarks suggest that Tokyo is not expected to join the July round of TPP negotiations, which are scheduled to last around 10 days.
As the U.S. and the 10 other TPP countries step up their discussions with an eye to concluding a deal by year’s end, Japan may be allowed to join during the middle of the talks, lessening Tokyo’s chances of becoming actively involved in the rule-making process.
The July round of TPP talks will be the earliest Japan can take part in, given congressional procedures to approve Japan’s entry. The 11 countries gave the green light to Japan’s participation April 20.
Nishimura indicated that Tokyo will not be involved in arranging the schedule of the July round of negotiations, saying the 11 countries will decide the specific schedule. They are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
Trade minister Toshimitsu Motegi has agreed with his Colombian counterpart to reach broad agreement on a bilateral free-trade deal by the end of the year.
“There is no major obstacle and we hope to work on this issue with a sense of speed,” Motegi told reporters after holding talks Tuesday with Colombian Trade, Industry and Tourism Minister Sergio Diaz-Granados Guida.
The two countries held their first round of free-trade negotiations in Tokyo in December. The second round is expected in Colombia as early as this month.
Motegi met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos earlier in the day.
Santos was quoted as telling him that a regional economic group comprising Colombia, Chile, Peru and Mexico attaches “high value to Japan among Asian countries.”
The group called the Alliance of the Pacific aims at integrating their economies and reinforcing ties with the Asia-Pacific region.
Motegi visited Colombia on the first leg of a weeklong tour that will also take him to Brazil and the United States.
Around 30 corporate executives accompanied him on the visit to Colombia.