Chief negotiators of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks are due to wind up 10 days of negotiations on Saturday, July 12, in Ottawa, but TPP minister Akira Amari said on Friday, July 11, that the member countries are not ready to hold a ministerial gathering this time, as differences still exist among them, notably the United States and Japan.
Agriculture minister Yoshimasa Hayashi also said the same day the negotiations will continue on a working level.
Amari stressed that in order to hold a ministerial meeting, gaps among member countries need to become narrow enough for ministers to solve in a short period of time.
Chief negotiators of the 12 member countries are currently focusing mainly on the sector of international trade rules. At the same time, they are discussing bilaterally on the sector of market access including tariffs on agricultural products.
Admitting that it would be difficult to hold a ministerial meeting, Amari said the countries will work on resolving remaining issues on a bilateral basis.
Hayashi stressed that the government does not intend to set a deadline for the negotiations, while noting that it will continue seeking early agreement, putting top priority on realizing national interests.
Hayashi added that he has not heard of any specific sector in which negotiators reached a conclusion that there is no need for further discussion among ministers.
(July 12, 2014)