The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was supposed to be central to plans by Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to pep up the economy. Japanese farming is heavily protected and inefficient. Mr Abe promised big changes when it came to “sacred” areas protected by swingeing import tariffs including rice, wheat, beef, dairy and sugar.
The American side knows Japanese farmers need time to adjust. Still, negotiators have recently been underwhelmed by what was on offer—a refusal by the Japanese side to contemplate big cuts in tariffs. Perhaps the Japanese judged that the Americans needed a deal more. If so, they miscalculated. Piqued, the Americans withdrew an offer to cut tariffs on imported car parts. And that was that. One Japanese policymaker describes it as the most acrimonious episode since the bruising bilateral trade wars of the 1980s….The TPP bus is stalled.
Japan, America and the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Stalemate, Economist, Oct. 4, 2014, at 47