TPP concessions won’t come easy, Abe tells U.S.

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday he was determined to swiftly conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks but that any concessions will not be made lightly in parallel talks with the United States.

“We are having tough talks with the United States in the areas of agriculture and automobiles. . .We will not make any easy concessions,” Abe said to a meeting of corporate executives and public policy experts.

The prime minister also said his “Abenomics” policy will fail unless smaller companies regain confidence.

Japan and the United States, two leading members of the 12-nation TPP talks, which also involve Singapore and Australia, have been struggling to resolve differences over tariffs and other issues in bilateral talks taking place on the sideline of the full TPP negotiations.

Without a deal between the two major economies, the TPP members failed this month at a ministerial meeting to achieve a broad agreement on a free trade area that would account for around 40 percent of global economic output, as aimed for by the 12 members’ leaders in October. They will continue talks into next year.

“We must resolve every issue for ambitious targets,” Abe said, suggesting it will require the leaders of the negotiating countries to make political decisions at the very last stage of the negotiations.

“I will tackle (the TPP talks) with the aim of concluding negotiations at an early date,” Abe said, noting successful TPP talks are necessary for further growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

The prime minister said he wants the United States to lead the negotiations by sharing a “broad perspective” with Japan, an apparent call for the U.S. side to compromise on some issues to secure the agreement.

Abe reiterated his desire to end at all costs Japan’s nearly two decades of deflation and bring about sustainable growth anchored by stronger capital spending and higher employment.

On Abenomics, which combines radical monetary and traditional fiscal stimulus with vows on deregulatory and other growth measures, Abe said he wants to see the recovery in sentiment among large companies spread to smaller ones.

“I believe Abenomics will be seen as a failure unless the robust earnings of major companies spread across to small and mid-size firms and the people working there,” Abe said.

The prime minister also said he hopes large companies will raise salaries to help secure a “virtuous economic cycle.”