Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has a “strong intention” to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks by the end of the year, TPP minister Akira Amari said Friday as the U.S. pork lobby pressured Japan to make concessions, but added that the free trade deal cannot be struck without a commitment from all sides.
“Political leaders should show their strong will” to achieve agreement on the U.S.-led pact to reduce barriers to trade among the 12 countries this year, Amari said in Tokyo.
Abe is eager to wrap up the TPP talks early because the pact is a “pillar of Abenomics,” Amari said, referring to his deflation-battling economic plan centered on aggressive monetary easing, massive fiscal spending and vows of structural reform.
The TPP talks remain stalled by disagreements between Tokyo and Washington over tariff reductions and doubts are growing about whether they can be resolved by the end of this year.
Chief negotiators were on Saturday due to wind up 10 days of talks in Ottawa, but a ministerial gathering, which usually follows working-level negotiations, is not scheduled to be held this time on the session’s margins.
In the meantime, U.S. National Pork Producers Council Vice President Nick Giordano said Thursday that Japan should show “more flexibility” in Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations for regional free trade.
To achieve a broad TPP accord early, Japan needs to do more toward eliminating its tariffs on agricultural products, said Giordano who is visiting the Canadian capital to monitor progress in the TPP discussions.
He requested that Japan make concessions to bring about a broad TPP deal in November as pursued by the members.
The pork industry group is urging the United States not to compromise, insisting that Japan should be excluded from a TPP deal if its market-opening measures are not enough.
The TPP aims to scrap all trade tariffs. It would create a free trade zone linking nations on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, a bloc that comprises roughly 40 percent of global gross domestic product and one-third of all world trade.
Its 12 negotiating countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.