24 May, 2012
When should we expect Prime Minister Noda to officially and clearly announce to join the TPP negotiation? Some lawmakers say “not in June because of the delayed conclusion at the Project Team of the ruling party and of other issues with higher priority such as raising consumption tax and the reoperation of some nuclear power plants. Others warn anytime because Japan/US prior consultation is potentially going on and if targeting at the US congress agreement in not later than September, June could be possible.
Serial events in June are under consideration among our allies to express our voices against the TPP prior to G20 and July Round in San Diego.
Will Vietnam’s enforcement of the new regulation to require domestic processing of rare metals affect the TPP negotiation?
＜Clippings from The Nikkei Newspaper＞
１，May 15 edition:
China and Korea had the first round of their FTA negotiation
The working team seems to have discussed the guiding principle for steps and process of the negotiation for each area including how to handle sensitive issues. Next turn will be Korea and be held in July.
２，May 16 edition:
WTO countries to restart negotiation to revise ITA,and will discuss tariff elimination on more digital products.
ITA was effectuated in ’97 and 150 items have been tariff exempted in 74 countries from the beginning.
Eight country including Japan and the US proposed on 15 May to add approx.150 items and China, EU and others reluctantly agreed who had either opposed or prioritized elimination of non-tariff barriers.
The negotiation may take place in July.
３，May 17 and 18 edition:
Japan’s announcement to join the TPP negotiation might be postponed, possibly from summer onward.
The main hurdle for Prime Minister Noda is considered to be the arguments in his own party, DPJ, while it is anticipated P9 countries might fail to reach agreement by the end of this year. And the US chief negotiator is reported to have spoken they discussed the entry of the three countries in the May round and will in the July as well.
４，May 18 edition:
A.Resource-producing countries in South East Asia to tighten export control.
Vietnam has already enforced the “New Mineral Control Act (not direct translation), and requires domestic processing of rare metals to control destructive mining and to develop domestic industry. Vietnam is not a major producer now, but attracts considerable attention from importers to diversify their source of supply.
Indonesia has introduced the “New Mining Control Act (not direct translation)” and will ban export of ores and require domestic processing starting in 2014. In preparation for the full enforcement of the new law, they announced to the media the introduction of 20% export tariff on 65 items of unprocessed ores. In addition the government will introduce other regulations including export tariff on coal which is not regulated under the “New Act”. China, India and Japan will most be affected.
B.The chief government representative for TPP appointed to send a certain signal of Japan’s resolution to join the negotiation.
Shotaro OHSHIMA now the ambassador to Korea experienced various international negotiations as a member of the Appellate Body of WTO, and as Ambassador to The Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva.
５，May 20 edition:
New President of France met with Japanese Prime Minister on 20 May at G8 and showed his support on the Japan/EU EPA, but he urged better access to Japanese market.
６，May 21 edition:
Japan/Myanmar investment treaty to be signed at the Nov. ASEAN/Japan Summit in Cambodia. The first negotiation will start on 23 May.
７，May 24 edition:
The project team of the ruling party for TPP has made the draft assessment on TPP as points at issue on 23 May.
＜Anti-TPP activities update.＞
１，Dialogue between civil society and government officials hosted by civil groups.
On 22 May civil groups hosted an assembly for dialogue on TPP between civil society and the government inviting government officials from most of the concerned ministries including a Parliamentary Secretary of Cabinet Office and activists against the TPP. Some hundreds people attended.Among various arguments, it was obvious that the government couldn’t show persuasive visions on sensitive issues after the TPP is adopted in Japan such as agriculture, medicine access, public health program and etc. There was no persuasive explanation about logical grounds how Japan could make the decision without prior and full information on the ongoing negotiations.
Mr.Ohgushi the Parliamentary Secretary clearly said that if the negotiation is not beneficial to Japan, Japan would withdraw from the TPP negotiation even after joining. The government seemed too optimistic about benefits of the TPP they expected including ISDS in which the US corporations has gained a lot, while they lost none out of the fifteen cases filed against the US.
Mr. Ohgushi also mentioned that it has been confirmed in the meeting with USTR that tariff matters will be concluded in the negotiation and he confirmed that those issues raised by the US in the prior consultations are US concerns and not pre-conditions for Japan’s participation in the negotiation.
The same event will be held in Osaka early next week.
２，Serial events in June under planning.
People’s Action against TPP and allies had a meeting on 24 May and concluded to launch serial events by member organizations to be continuously held until the departure of Prime Minister Noda for G20 such as a series of cinema events, small assemblies the images of which uploaded in internet and etc, and a finale assembly with appeals toward civil society and Mr.Noda.
The working team is scheduled to have its first meeting on 29 May.