WASHINGTON – A senior Japanese trade negotiator said on Wednesday that it would be impossible to renegotiate a sweeping Pacific trade agreement, as some U.S. presidential candidates have proposed, without destroying it.
Hiroshi Oe, Japan’s deputy chief negotiator for the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, told an Asia Society forum in Washington that trying to alter one aspect of the pact for the United States would open the door for 11 other countries to ask for changes.
“TPP to me is something like a delicate, fragile glasswork, so if we want to cut one part of it, that will destroy everything,” Oe said. “About renegotiation of the substance, that’s no possibility.”
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has said she does not support TPP in its current form and would seek to renegotiate it to include an enforceable provision to combat currency manipulation.
Some economists, along with Obama administration officials, argue that this would be unworkable because it is often too difficult to distinguish currency manipulation and normal monetary policy actions and could expose the Federal Reserve’s decisions to trade retaliation.
Other U.S. lawmakers, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have expressed opposition to provisions on tobacco regulation and have said that the pact should not be considered for a vote in Congress before November’s elections.
Oe said that he hoped that the Diet would approve the trade deal by early June, prior to national elections in July.
“I think that’s necessary, to pressure the United States” to approve the TPP as well, he said.