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‘TPP-11’nations maintain level of trade liberalization

Pool photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun

The venue where a scheduled meeting of the 11 nations’ leaders was to be held before it was canceled

The Yomiuri ShimbunDA NANG, Vietnam — The broad agreement just reached on a new deal by 11 TPP countries, including Japan, Australia and Canada, reflects the members’ efforts to maintain the level of trade liberalization from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement by minimizing the number of TPP provisions to be frozen.

Of more than 1,000 items agreed on in the TPP pact, 20 will be frozen until the United States rejoins under the new trade deal, called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Four items that some countries regard as sensitive issues remain unresolved.

While the details of the documents regarding the broad agreement have not been disclosed, the Japanese government on Saturday announced the outline of the new trade deal comprising seven articles.

The new agreement stipulates that the 11 signatory countries will implement the matters agreed upon by them and the United States in the TPP pact. Under the CPTPP, items that were included in the former pact under the initiative of the United States are to be frozen and lifted when the United States returns to the free trade framework.

Initially, more than 50 items were proposed for freezing, but the members ultimately reduced it to 20. Many of the items are related to intellectual property rights protection, reflecting the desires of the United States before it withdrew.

At a press conference on Saturday in Da Nang, central Vietnam, Toshimitsu Motegi, minister in charge of economic revitalization, said, “The new deal has achieved a high level of balance, just like the TPP deal.”

In the field of intellectual property, many provisions are favorable to the United States, which is strong in industries such as movies and pharmaceuticals. Therefore, the 11 countries decided early in the negotiations to freeze these provisions, such as one that standardizes the length of copyright terms for movies, music and other works to 70 years after the death of the creator.

Another item for freezing is a provision stipulating a data protection period for biologic medicines (eight years in real terms) to protect the exclusive marketing rights of pharmaceutical companies that develop new drugs.

In addition, part of the TPP’s provision on the settlement of disputes between investors and countries, which is aimed at resolving disagreements between companies and their investment destination countries, was frozen because of concerns that the provision may invoke a wave of lawsuits by companies against member nation governments.

Part of the dispute settlement procedure concerning telecommunications businesses, such as telephones and the internet, will be frozen as well.

The following four items remain unresolved:

■ Exceptional provision aimed at protecting culture (Canada)

■ Provision concerning state-owned enterprises (Malaysia)

■ Rules on services and investment (Brunei)

■ Dispute settlement procedures regarding trade sanctions (Vietnam)

The above four countries did not readily make concessions over their own countries’ interests during the negotiations, and were immovable on these particular points. The 11 countries will continue to discuss how to deal with these issues, including whether or not to freeze them.

“Some issues may require political decisions,” Motegi said.Speech

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