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2011年1月26日 (水)

POINT OF VIEW

朝日新聞は1月22日にPOINT OF VIEW (視点論点)という記事を3件同時に掲載していますが、この記事は第三番目の記事で議題はTPP(環太平洋戦略経済連携協定 Trans-Pacific Partnership)。
朝日新聞の論説客員による記事ですが論点がいまいち明確でない。
別の言い方をするとインパクトがない。
なにが言いたいのが読み手にはっきりと伝わってこない、論説としては失敗作だと思います。

論説の骨子は掴みにくいですがあえて書いてみます。

日本を除く諸外国のTPPへのとりくみは迅速であり、あーだこーだと条件つけをしない。
日本は国内への配慮のあまり、TPP参加への意気込みは強いが、様々な条件をつける傾向がある。たとえば米に対する関税の例外扱い(特別扱い)など。
米国を含むTPP参加諸外国は日本がこのように例外規定をもうけてTPPの足並みを乱すことを疎ましく思っている。出来れば日本はTPPに参加して欲しくないと思っている。

こんなところしか読み取れませんでした。

この程度だったら、毎日読んでいる社説レベルの知識であり、なんら目新しくない。
直前に掲載した2件の論説にくらべると、見劣りのする論説だと思います。

POINT OF VIEW/ Yuzuru Takano: TPP could be a blessing if Japan has a strategy

2011/01/22
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Yuzuru Takano (The Asahi Shimbun)
There's a new buzzword in Japan these days. Many Japanese are talking about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a multilateral free trade agreement being negotiated by nine Pacific-Rim countries, including the United States and Australia. The conversations come across if a new "black ship" was on the horizon that could create a national crisis for Japan.

Given the TPP principle of no exemption from tariff elimination, the alarmist language used in Japan for discussing the pact is hardly surprising. But the reality of the initiative is quite different from what many Japanese seem to think it is.

For one thing, there are too many and deep disagreements among the countries involved in the negotiations for the proposal to be regarded as posing a serious threat to Japan.

The United States, for instance, is adamant in rejecting the liberalization of trade in sugar. A great many American farmers feel the same way. The U.S. stance toward the issue has made Australia and other sugar-exporting countries positively frantic.

The participating countries are pursuing widely different agendas in the TPP talks.

Washington is seeking to apply the terms of the bilateral free trade agreements it has concluded with various trade partners to the TPP rules without any major change. Australia, for its part, wants to work out new trade rules from scratch. New Zealand, Singapore, Chile and Brunei are in favor of simply expanding their existing TPP framework known as P4.

Deborah Elms, head of the Temasek Foundation Centre for Trade and Negotiations in Singapore, who is well-versed in the TPP negotiations, says it will be extremely difficult for the countries to strike a deal during the 2011 summit meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, to be held in November in Hawaii.

Second, no country is putting any pressure on Japan to open up its market. The U.S. government, which is leading the negotiations, has its sights set on fast-growing emerging economies in Asia, such as Vietnam. In fact, Washington is not quite happy about the participation of countries, such as Japan, which are expected to demand exceptions to trade liberalization, causing delays in the negotiations.

Japan is under no external pressure to join the TPP talks. It is a decision Japan can and should make from its own strategic viewpoint.

The P4 agreement, which took effect in 2006, is designed to achieve a high level of trade liberalization. That's one of the reasons for the Japan's wariness about the TPP pact.

But the P4 in reality is far more symbolic than substantial.

The two core members, Singapore and New Zealand, are both small countries with populations of slightly more than 4 million. Singapore is a country focused on commerce and industry, while New Zealand is an agriculture-oriented nation. Their trade relationship is mutually complementary. So, the two countries struck a bilateral free trade agreement before the P4 was launched.

Both the benefits and costs of the P4 are small for the two core members. The framework will have substantial economic implications only when major trading powers have joined it through serious efforts for harmonizing the differing interests among the participants.

The P4 imposes restrictions on the movements of workers among the member nations and is different in this respect from the European Union, which allows citizens of the member countries to freely cross borders within the region.

In considering its participation in the TPP talks, Tokyo has made various estimates on the assumption that Japan would be required to scrap its prohibitive tariffs on rice imports. Japan also trails South Korea in the race to conclude free trade deals with key trade partners.

But it is highly questionable whether such efforts are meaningful at the moment while the process of international negotiations on the rules for the envisioned pact is just beginning. Disagreements among the major players remain wide and deep.

Instead of being intimidated by hypothetical threats, Japan should start mapping out a shrewd diplomatic strategy for the TPP negotiations designed to protect its national interests while securing whatever benefits it could get from the pact.

* * *

Yuzuru Takano is a correspondent at The Asahi Shimbun's New Delhi Bureau.

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