Mon, Jul 14, 2014 - Page 15 News List

TPP talks arrive at some agreement, issues remain

Reuters, OTTAWA and TOKYO

Pacific trade talks have reached broad agreement on labor issues and sanitary and phytosanitary standards but some difficult aspects remain to be tackled, Japan’s chief negotiator said on Saturday.

Chief Japanese negotiator Koji Tsuruoka said the 12 potential member nations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) made progress at talks in Ottawa, but there was no discussion about the timing of the overall accord in the regional free-trade agreement.

“We came to Ottawa so that we would clarify what issues are left [after the Ottawa talks] and find out the direction. We achieved the desired goal,” he told a news conference.

However, gaps remain to be bridged and further talks are required on issues such as intellectual property, state-owned companies and the environment, he said.

Tsuruoka said the countries felt the situation was not yet ripe to set the timing for a ministerial meeting as talks among officials had not made sufficient progress by the end on Saturday of the talks in Ottawa, which ran about a week.

Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast told reporters on Friday he would not put a timeline on when the TPP talks would conclude.

“We are bringing all of our efforts to bear to bring these negotiations forward in a timely manner,” he said.

Asked to comment on New Zealand’s suggestion that Japan should be eliminated from the TPP if it does not open its markets to more agricultural imports, he said: “I’m not going to comment on what other TPP partners say. All of them are valuable partners.”

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