post date : 2015.08.14
Vol. 8 August 14, 2015
Asahi: Commit to reaching an agreement
Sankei: Reopen talks soon, before momentum is lost
Nikkei: Finish TPP negotiations quickly without letting them go adrift
Mainichi: Don't lose momentum of negotiations
Yomiuri: TPP negotiations must resume promptly to keep talks on course
The ministerial meeting in Maui Island, Hawaii, of the countries aiming to reach a broad agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade framework ended on July 31, with negotiators deadlocked over the intellectual property and tariffs on dairy products. The 12 participating nations are expected to explore the possibility of holding another ministerial meeting as early as August to settle the pending issues. But it remains to be seen if an agreement can be reached soon for the five-year negotiations, which have been marked by twists and turns.
Although negotiations this time saw progress in a variety of areas, nations locked horns with each other to the last over certain issues such as the period of data exclusivity for new drugs Likewise, Japan and the United States failed to resolve their differences over U.S.-produced rice and Japan-made auto parts.
The five national dailies discussed the ministerial meeting in their editorials on August 2. The newspapers said it was “extremely regrettable,” “a significant setback,” or “worrisome” that the meeting failed to produce an accord—despite high expectations generated by the U.S. Congress granting the presidential authority to expedite negotiations for the massive trade deal. They also urged the TPP-negotiating nations to resume talks at an early date to prevent negotiations from becoming protracted.
■Transcending the interests of each nation
The newspapers all stressed the importance of concluding the TPP negotiations, with The Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) saying, “The TPP will create the world’s largest free-trade bloc and rewrite global trade and investment rules to elevate them to a higher dimension.” The dailies also called on the participating nations to find common ground quickly.
Referring to New Zealand’s unyielding stance on expanding their exports of dairy products, The Yomiuri Shimbun said, “There is no denying that this weakened the momentum for last-minute compromises in drug patents and other areas.”
“In negotiations such as these that intricately involve the interests of many countries, it is vital for each country to display a spirit of compromise from a broad perspective, rather than pressing ahead with unilateral demands,” The Yomiuri added.
The Mainichi Shimbun commented on the failure of reaching accords in the overall negotiations as well as bilateral talks between Japan and the United States as follows: “These arguments were all made because their national interests are at stake. But merely taking an unyielding stance will not lead to a deal. The TPP is bound to significantly benefit their national interests. It is hoped that these nations will make mutual concessions from a broad perspective.”
The national dailies called for a rapid accord because of the political schedules of some nations.
“The political schedules of these nations are cause for concern,” The Sankei Shimbun said. “It was said that the negotiations could go adrift if the countries failed to seize this opportunity because making progress months later was seen as difficult, with the United States holding its presidential election next year. Canada is also holding a general election this October.” In addition, The Yomiuri and The Mainichi cited Japan’s House of Councillors election to be held next summer as well.
■Keeping China in check
The Asahi Shimbun, The Mainichi and The Sankei cited the presence of China, which is increasingly wielding its influence over the Asia-Pacific region, as a reason why the TPP negotiations must be concluded soon.
“This region provides a theater for the two major powers—the United States and China—to compete each other. The TPP has played a role of stimulating and leading trade negotiations in which China is involved, such as those for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Japan-China-South Korea free trade accord,” The Asahi said. “A failure to conclude TPP negotiations cannot be condoned if these nations want to draw China closer to their side and, thereby, ensure the prosperity and peace of the Asia-Pacific region.”
The Mainichi also said: “The TPP is also designed to check China. China is rapidly boosting its influence in the Asia-Pacific region. It is important to establish fair and transparent trade rules with the TPP.” The Sankei said that “(the TPP) has a strategic significance of countering China, which is strengthening its influence both militarily and economically in this region.”
■ Weighty responsibilities for Japan and the U.S.
The newspapers discussed how best to respond the stalemate and bring TPP negotiations to a successful conclusion.
The Asahi said, “It might be a good opportunity for Japan—the second largest economy among the TPP participating members after the United States—to play a key role at this juncture,” urging TPP Minister Akira Amari to exercise leadership in scheduling the next ministerial meeting and pushing working-level talks forward.
The four other dailies, meanwhile, stressed how weighty the responsibilities of Japan and the United States are in striving to seal a TPP deal.
“It is essential for Japan and the United States to prioritize securing the benefits of the whole bloc, rather than sticking to their narrow national interests,” The Nikkei said.
The Yomiuri said “It is necessary for the countries centering around Japan and the United States, which are leading the negotiations, to continue having level-headed, constructive talks,” while The Sankei said “Negotiations must not be allowed to go adrift. Japan and the U.S. must renew their commitment and exercise leadership to reach a deal.”
The Mainichi concluded its editorial by saying: “Negotiations thus far narrowed down the issues to be resolved. But the negotiating countries will be walking a tightrope trying to reach a deal [before the political season starts in these nations]. In particular, the responsibilities of Japan and the United States, whose economies are on much larger scales than others’, are heavy. They should lead negotiations to prod participating nations to make mutual concessions.”
*English translations of The Yomiuri are from The Japan News. Those for The Asahi, The Mainichi, The Nikkei and The Sankei are provisional. The content of this page was made by the Foreign Press Center of Japan and does not reflect the opinion of the Japanese Government or any other organization.