TPP-11 nations agree to freeze drug monopoly protection period

TOKYO, Aug. 31 ─ The 11 members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have agreed to put a provision for drug monopoly protection period on ice, until the United States returns to the TPP.

Senior trade officials from the 11 members met in Sydney to discuss how the TPP is being implemented without the U.S. at a three-day meeting that ended on Aug. 30.

The drug monopoly protection of eight years was one of the thorniest issues that many members had to concede to U.S. demands during the TPP negotiations.

During the Sydney meeting, some members also asked to revise other issues such as investment protection. In the meantime, Tokyo didn’t put agriculture proposals to scale back market access on the table.

“As Japan has taken the lead to advance the TPP, it is difficult to put less ambitious proposals on market access,” a Japanese government official said.

The Japanese farm community has recently raised strong concerns if Japan and the U.S. enter a new bilateral trade negotiation, Tokyo could be forced to make more concessions than it did in the TPP.

So it has been demanding to cut back new tariff rate quotas (TRQ) for the TPP to be reduced by the amount allocated to the U.S. and change the special safeguard (SSG) criteria, until and if Washington comes back to the TPP.

The remaining 11 TPP members are aiming to reach an agreement on how to bring the deal into force without the U.S. by early November when their leaders meet at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam.

The next meeting will take place in late September in Japan.

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