« 相撲協会改革 公益法人に恥じぬ組織運営を | トップページ | タイ総選挙 依然見えない混乱収拾への道 »

2014年2月 4日 (火)

TPP交渉 日米は膠着状態の打開に動け

The Yomiuri Shimbun February 3, 2014
Japan, U.S. must go all out to break TPP talemate, preserve momentum
TPP交渉 日米は膠着状態の打開に動け(2月3日付・読売社説)

Efforts to create a new free trade framework in the Asia-Pacific region must not remain at a standstill. To break the impasse, we urge the governments of both Japan and the United States to reach an agreement at the earliest possible time.

Twelve countries including Japan, the United States and Australia are participating in negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral free trade agreement. However, a ministerial meeting in Singapore toward the end of 2013 ended up abandoning the goal of reaching a conclusion before the end of last year. No substantive TPP talks have taken place since then.

It can be said that the process of TPP negotiations is teetering on the edge of success or failure. An upcoming ministerial meeting, which is likely to be scheduled for late February, will be of crucial significance to the future development of the talks.

The biggest factor behind the prolonged delay is the standoff between Japan and the United States over such problems as the abolition of tariffs.

There are no signs of the United States softening its tough stance against the Liberal Democratic Party’s assertions that five categories of agricultural products, including rice and wheat, should be exempted from tariff elimination.

Akira Amari, the minister in charge of TPP negotiations, had talks over the phone with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman on Jan. 20, but there was no progress on concluding the broad trade agreement.

Talks on Jan. 25 in Switzerland between Froman, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi also failed to take any step forward other than confirming to continue bilateral cooperation toward an early conclusion of the TPP talks.

As long as Tokyo and Washington continue to stick steadfastly to their respective “basic principles,” the two countries will have difficulty achieving a breakthrough in the stalled negotiations.

Farming reform worthwhile

In his State of the Union speech on Jan. 28, U.S. President Barack Obama emphasized his resolve to work toward expansion of U.S. exports and employment, using the envisioned TPP pact as leverage. Obama may be intent on concluding TPP negotiations with the aim of realizing a full-scale recovery of the U.S. economy, thereby reviving his administration’s power base.

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for its part, has put weight on the TPP talks as part of its strategy to boost the national economy, in particular to tap the vigor of Asian economies.

It is obviously of high significance for Japan and the United States to beef up their cooperation as allies.

It is most urgent for the United States to aim for a meeting point with Japan from a broader perspective.

The TPP negotiations, which have lasted about four years, have mostly reached accords in fields such as measures for expediting trade and formulating rules in such areas as investments.

In addition to the Japan-U.S. conflicts over tariffs, however, the United States and emerging economies such as Malaysia have also remained far apart in such areas as protection of intellectual property rights and competition rules involving state-owned enterprises.

The 10 other TPP member countries are keeping a close eye on progress in the Japan-U.S. talks, and there are fears that negotiations in other areas could also be impeded if these talks remain stalled. We must avoid at all costs a situation that could destroy the momentum of the TPP negotiations as a whole, jeopardizing early conclusion of the talks.

On the other hand, the Japanese government deserves praise for hammering out steps to reform the farming sector, such as integration of farming plots and a review of the conventional rice acreage reduction policy, in preparation for opening the farm sector further to international competition.

The government should waste no time in working out specific measures for encouraging Japan’s farming industry to “go on the offensive,” not only to deal with the TPP negotiations but also to ensure rejuvenation of the national economy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 3, 2014)
(2014年2月3日01時48分  読売新聞)


« 相撲協会改革 公益法人に恥じぬ組織運営を | トップページ | タイ総選挙 依然見えない混乱収拾への道 »





« 相撲協会改革 公益法人に恥じぬ組織運営を | トップページ | タイ総選挙 依然見えない混乱収拾への道 »