TPP talks without US edge closer to new deal ahead of APEC

URAYASU, Nov. 2 — Officials from the remaining 11 members of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have managed to narrow differences, raising hopes that they could reach a new trade deal without the United States during their Nov. 8-9 ministerial meeting in Vietnam.

TPP-11 officials met in Urayasu city, near Tokyo, for three days that ended on Nov. 1. They focused on narrowing the list of provisions that will be put on ice in the hopes that the U.S. will return to the TPP.

“We advanced the discussion,” Kazuyoshi Umemoto, Japan’s chief negotiator, told reporters after the meeting.

Umemoto said members agreed on certain provisions, including the data exclusivity period for biologic drugs and several others, to be suspended.

He also said members withdrew some of their suspension requests during the talks, but declined to disclose details.

The negotiators now hope progress they made may be finalized when their trade ministers meet at the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam for two days starting on Nov. 8.

In his comments to reporters, however, Umemoto didn’t specifically acknowledge progress on agriculture to scale back market access.

Japan discussed cutting back dairy market access and changing special safeguard mechanism for beef imports with exporting members bilaterally, but apparently made no progress, according to informed sources.

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