Washington, DC – The successful forging of a comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact by the end of this year hinges on the US and Japan “reaching a compromise in bilateral trade negotiations,” according to a top level Japanese trade official.
Speaking at a recent meeting of the Center for International Strategic Studies, Hiroyuki Ishige, chairman of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), said that leaders in both Washington and Tokyo “need to make bold decisions and recognize the strategic importance of finalizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
Each side, he said, “knows his counterpart’s red line. It’s time for them to show the political urge for compromise. There is no perfect TPP.”
Ishige’s comments come as the US and Japan continue with negotiations to resolve their own, often contentious, differences that have become a major hurdle in finalizing the pact, whose 12-member nations account for more than a quarter of total international trade and 40 percent of global economic output.
The US wants Tokyo to open up its rice, beef and pork, dairy and sugar sectors and smooth the way for US car dealerships, while Japan is keen for a timetable on Washington’s promise to eliminate tariffs of 2.5 percent on imports of passenger cars and 25 percent on light trucks.
The TPP is aimed at cutting tariffs and setting trade rules, and is central to the Obama Administration’s attempt to boost American exports to Asia and re-orient US foreign policy toward a region of growing economic importance.
The pact is seen as a precursor to a future wide-ranging free-trade arrangement for the entire Pacific Rim region.
The other countries negotiating the TPP are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.