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Trans Pacific Partnership still stalled

Japan, Congress could find themselves at odds with White House

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In spite of optimistic official rhetoric from the White House, Japan seems to be the latest speed-bump on the road to the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership trade treaty.

The treaty has been criticised for advocating criminal penalties for copyright infringement, exporting an American “big pharma” agenda on drug patents, investor-state dispute procedures allowing companies to sue governments over local regulation – and for the secrecy surrounding the treaty text.

Late in April, the Obama administration was making optimistic statements about progress on the treaty after negotiations with Japan. In a joint statement, the two countries said they had made “significant progress” on answering Japan's resistance to opening up its auto and agricultural sectors under the treaty.

However, that accord doesn't seem to be lasting. The GlobalPost reports that Japan will consider any agreement with the US nailed-down and not subject to renegotiation, even if Congress refuses to ratify the agreement as it now stands.

That story quotes senior vice minister of Japan's Cabinet Office Yasutoshi Nishimura as saying that Washington has been told “Japan will never renegotiate” the deal.

Nishimura had visited the US during early May to meet with a number of US officials and legislators, the Global Post states.

That refusal to renegotiate could prove problematic, since there are signals from Congress that lawmakers aren't happy with where the treaty now stands. In particular, according to Japanese site Mainichi, the treaty would only win Congressional approval if “if also addresses alleged currency manipulation by Japan”.

Mainichi notes that the deadline for the TPP has been pushed back to an undefined date in 2014. ®

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