TPP11 talks end with inching closer for a new deal without US

TOKYO, Sept.23 — The 11 members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have made some progress by narrowing down the list of provisions that will be put on ice until the United States returns to the TPP.

Senior trade officials met in Tokyo to discuss what provisions of the deal to be shelved at a two-day meeting that ended Sept. 22.

In the meeting, they agreed to cut back the number of shelved provisions in rule-making areas to about 50, down from some 70, informed sources said.

At the previous meeting in Sydney in August, they agreed to shelve a provision for drug monopoly protection period in the chapter for intellectual property rights. It was one of the thorniest issues that many members had to concede to the U.S. demands during the original TPP negotiations.

“We have deepened our understanding of one another’s positions and concerns,” said Japan’s chief TPP negotiator Kazuyoshi Umemoto, who chaired the Tokyo meeting.

“But there is a lot of amount of work still to be done,” he added.

Negotiators have agreed to meet again in Tokyo in October, aimed at advancing the talks.

The remaining 11 TPP members are seeking to reach a new agreement when their trade ministers meet at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam in November.

Meanwhile, Japanese farmers have 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 they have 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.

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