Japan's chief negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Kazuyoshi Umemoto, said Japan welcomes a positive stance by the U.S. toward the TPP, but reopening talks to accommodate the U.S. would be very difficult, Reuters reported Feb. 20.
"We have been working, motivated by hopes that the United States would return to the trade pact soon," he told the news outlet.
In January, U.S. President Donald Trump said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that it was possible Washington might return to the pact if it got a better deal.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has rejected the idea of reopening talks, though Reuters sources said Tokyo might act as a bridge to lure Washington back with minor changes.
Japan took the lead in forging the revised trade pact after Trump pulled America out of the 12-nation TPP in 2017, saying he wanted bilateral deals that would be more beneficial to the U.S.
Umemoto said it took half a year to reach an agreement for the TPP 11 with "intensive talks." The agreement among the remaining 11 member nations is set to be signed in Chile on March 8.
The final text of the revised TPP, now called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement For Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, is expected to be published Feb. 21.
The new deal does not make changes in terms of market access agreed on by the original 12 members and cuts down on the number of rule-related items that are frozen, said Umemoto.