talks in Sydney end with further negotiation set for Sept.
Chief negotiators from the 11 remaining member countries of the
Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal agreed to reconvene in
September, after three days of talks ended in Sydney on Wednesday.
Japanese chief negotiator Kazuyoshi Umemoto told a press
conference that they agreed to meet in Japan in late September, in
the hope of reaching a final decision ahead of the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation forum summit to be held in Vietnam in November.
Umemoto said that as a result of the Sydney talks, "common
understanding between their various countries had progressed."
The September talks would be the second time TPP negotiators
have met in Japan in three months, following discussions at a hot
spring resort southwest of Tokyo in July where members agreed to a
new framework, following the U.S. withdrawal in January.
Since President Donald Trump announced the United States would
be pulling out of the TPP, in order to pursue bilateral deals that
adhere to his "America first" doctrine, negotiations have been
During the Sydney talks, several countries requested amendments
or freezes be made to elements of the trade deal, in particular, to
issues surrounding government procurement and the protection of
pharmaceutical intellectual property.
It is understood that Japan is hoping to minimize amendments to
the trade deal as much as possible to ensure a speedy outcome.
However, sources close to the negotiations told Kyodo News that
while talks were "going OK," they may not be progressing as
some member countries may like, alluding to the Japanese and
Australian delegations, both of which cited the APEC forum in
November as the ideal time to finalize the trade deal.
The TPP was signed in February 2016 by Australia, Brunei,
Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore,
the United States and Vietnam -- covering around 40 percent of the
But as currently framed, the trade agreement can only be put
into force when ratified by at least six countries accounting for a
combined 85 percent of the economic output of the initial 12
signatory nations -- an impossible hurdle to clear in the absence of
the United States, which alone accounted for 60 percent of the total.
Thus the agreement must be revised, and the 11 remaining
countries are divided on how far the changes should go. (Aug. 30)