26 Nov, 2012
Various important agenda was raised in East Asian Summit which closed last week and the start of negotiations for EPA/FTAs in the region was announced. And that will create further competition between China and India. As for Japan, the election is near at hand and Liberal Democratic Party, possibly the leading party after the election released its election promise which includes their standpoint on TPP negotiation with five pre-conditions. Other major parties will also release their election promises shortly. But, we cannot help but watch the move by Japanese government to materialize a “TPP regime without TPP”.
＜ Clippings from The Nikkei Newspaper ＞
１、 Nov.19 and 20 editions:
ASEAN not to have clearly expressed when to start negotiation on the “Code of Conduct” in the South China Sea with China.ASEAN Summit Meeting closed on 18 Nov. and confirmed in the chairman’s statement that the negotiation on the “Code of Conduct” shall start as early as possible and expect a fruitful result.Chinese Premier WEN Jiabao showed intention to further negotiate the issue at ASEAN/China Summit Meeting on 19 Nov. But the official start of the negotiation was not clarified. Mr. WEN emphasized the settlement through ASEAN/China dialogue, checking on the US intervention.President Obama met with ASEAN top-leaders on 19 Nov. evening and showed his support for ASEAN on territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.
２、 Nov.20 edition:
A. P.M Noda met with Australian counterpart Gillard and showed his strong will toward joining TPP negotiation, but any significant progress made.Prime Minister Gillard didn’t show clear consent and only agreed to continue communication closely. They also talked about Japan/Australia EPA, but any significant progress on agriculture was not made so far, and only agreed to confirm the earliest possible close of the deal.
B. Prime Minister Noda met with President Obama and showed his strong will toward joining TPP negotiation. No further development made.
A. East Asian Summit agreed to start the negotiation on RCEP, while Japan/China/Korea FTA also to start its negotiation. The Summit ended on 20 Nov. and released the chairman’s statement. Japan/China/ Korea also held a trade ministers’ meeting and agreed to start the FTA negotiation.
B. China strongly opposed to make the South China Sea matter an agenda to be handled multilaterally at East Asian Summit. China succeeded in winning the host country Cambodia and Laos over to its side by providing various aids.
４、 Nov.22 edition:
Liberal Democratic Party set five conditions on TPP. LDP which is expected to be the leading party after the election released its election promise on 21 Nov. They set five conditions as follows to bind next administration not to make easy compromises in the negotiation. The conditions are; To oppose to participation in the negotiation excluding exceptions on tariff abolition. Not to accept numerical target of automobiles and other industrial products. To maintain the public health care system. To maintain and secure standards for food safety. Not to agree on the ISDS provision.
A. A US fund, Loan Star filed a suit against Korean Government at ICSID on 21 Nov. According to Korean Government, Loan Star claims that delayed decision by the government caused loss in the sales of the stock of Korean Foreign Exchange Bank of which the company owned 50% share. The company bought the stocks in 2003 and later tried to sell them.
B. An idea to shelve the US/Japan prior consultation on Automobile under consideration? According to a certain government source, the shelving of the prior consultation is under consideration to make Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiation at earliest possible timing. In such a case the prior consultation shall be continued in a framework separate from the TPP negotiation. Japan’s participation is taken indispensable to Obama Administration, but the US requires such an assurance as an official Cabinet decision.
C. Vietnam to ease restriction on foreign investment on retail business and infrastructure. At the “Japan-Vietnam Cooperative Initiative” conference on 23 Nov., the two countries agreed. Details shall be discussed between the two parties and be applied to all the other countries. Retail business has been open to foreign investors, but the criteria not publicly released. As for infrastructure projects, increase of government guarantee for procuring hard currency will help foreign investment grow.
６、 Nov.26 edition:
A. The String of Pearls (China) and The Necklace of Diamonds (India) compete against each other in RCEP and the regional oceanic security issue. India who has a sensitive political conflict with China is now trying to encircle China by building a close tie with ASEAN, and both India and China are key players for the success of RCEP. Indian Prime Minister emphasized the importance of mutual interest at India/ASEAN Summit Meeting on 19 Nov, while having provided Myanmar with0.5 billion USD of credit line during his visit to Myanmar in May. The two countries also agreed on the construction of a highway from Thailand to India through Myanmar and India is engaged in the construction of port facilities in western Myanmar. Indian Navy participated in joint maneuvers with some ASEAN countries and also with South African Navy, then with Japan. As for China, the Indian Ocean is an important sea lane for its oil from Middle East. It has started to construct 800 km pipeline from Yunnan down to a port in western Myanmar, a gateway to the Indian Sea and Middle East. China is also building port facilities in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and East Africa. India’s trade with ASEAN is only 73 billion USD, while China has 340 billion far ahead of India. And India has trade deficit of 27 billion USD against China which may increase when RCEP is effectuated.
B. The Patent office of Japan to introduce a reform bill of patent in next Diet. The new bill will include color, flavor, texture, sound, motion, position and etc. as registered trade mark like in the US which were not approved in the present rules in Japan. It has been under discussion at an advisory committee of the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Traded since 2008 and suspended because of oppositions. But TPP has brought it about again.
＜ Anti-TPP activities update. ＞
The same as previously reported.