Chance to renegotiate deal without US in TPP: Japan minister

TOKYO, Nov. 15 — Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi has suggested that “an agreement in principle” adopted by the remaining Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) members in Vietnam earlier this month will allow Tokyo to renegotiate agricultural market access if it wishes.

“You can rest assured what we should have in the agreement,” Motegi told reporters at a Nov. 14 press conference.

On Nov. 11, the 11 TPP countries inserted a clause in the agreement, stipulating that they will renegotiate the deal if any country requests it and if there is no prospect the U.S. will return to the TPP.

Yet, many observers and farm lobbyists privately said that the parameter of the clause may not allow Tokyo to renegotiate market access by scaling back tariff rate quotas (TRQs) for sensitive dairy products.

During the press conference, Motegi also said “The new agreement has sent a powerful message to the United States and other Asia-Pacific countries. This is a strong outcome for Japan’s growth strategy as well.”

Asked whether this can be really called as “agreement in principle,” despite four outstanding unresolved issues, Motegi replied: “Yes. We have agreed a new text for a new deal and agreed which provisions will be suspended. They all meet the requirement.”

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