Tokyo gets deadline to join TPP talks in December


A Vietnamese negotiator in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade accord has said it would be possible for Japan to join the negotiations by year’s end alongside Canada and Mexico, if Tokyo decides to enter the talks by the end of August.

“We would like to have Japan (enter the TPP) together with Canada or Mexico so that there will not be another delay in the negotiations,” Tran Quoc Khanh said. The chief U.S. negotiator, Barbara Weisel, who has a big say in whether Japan can enter the talks, also said she is waiting for Tokyo to formally make a decision on the issue.

The U.S. started Mexico’s approval process Monday and Canada’s on Tuesday. The two countries are expected to join the TPP talks in December if the U.S. Congress approves their entry following a 90-day waiting period.

Weisel said negotiators made significant progress in such areas as government procurement and cross-border services in the envisioned regional trade pact. However, no agreements were reached and each negotiator will return home with the proposals for further consideration.

Japan, Canada and Mexico expressed their interest in joining the TPP talks in November. Canada and Mexico were allowed to join the negotiations last month, but the United States, Australia and New Zealand have yet to make their official positions clear on whether to allow Japan’s entry into the talks.