Jiji Press HAKONE, Kanagawa (Jiji Press) — Chief negotiators from Japan and 10 other countries continued their discussions at a meeting near Tokyo on Thursday to find out ways to put their Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement into force without the presence of the United States.
The 11 countries aim to reach an agreement on the matter by November, when their leaders are scheduled to meet in Vietnam on the sidelines of a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
The chief negotiators started their meeting in the hot spring resort town of Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture on Wednesday. They plan to gather next in Australia in September, sources familiar with their talks said.
This is the first time for Japan to host a meeting of chief negotiators on the TPP, from which the United States withdrew in January under the policy of U.S. President Donald Trump.
On Thursday morning, Japanese chief negotiator Kazuyoshi Umemoto, who chairs the Hakone session, separately held a trilateral meeting with his counterparts from Australia and New Zealand. The three countries are in favor of effectuating the TPP without U.S. involvement.
At Wednesday’s plenary talks, the negotiators discussed a proposal for creating a protocol, separate from the existing treaty text, to put the TPP into force on a provisional basis. Japan supports the idea, but some countries opposed it, the sources said.
Japan plans to hold talks with Vietnam, this year’s APEC chair, and others to rally broader support for the protocol idea, the sources said.
The 11 countries and the United States reached an agreement on the TPP’s text in October 2015.
Some of the remaining 11 countries see the need for modifying some trade liberalization rules that were included in the text based on strong demand from the United States, the sources said.
The chief negotiators are expected to reaffirm four principles for reviewing the TPP pact that were adopted at a ministerial meeting held in May in Hanoi. The principles include the need to avoid substantial revisions to the pact.Speech