Another Obama-Abe Summit has come and gone. It’s time to pack up the good china and bring out the boxing gloves. The same pattern led up to this Summit as last year. Overselling hype until the reality of the continuing impasses precluded anything other than a declaration of progress and exhortations for closure of a trade negotiation claimed to be in its “final stages”.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s comments to the OECD after the 2014 Summit were virtually identical. He said:
“Negotiations are also in their final phase on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement…” and “Japan and the United States will act in co-operation to accelerate negotiations further towards the early conclusion of the negotiations by the 12 participating countries as a whole.”
Sound familiar? This is déjà vu all over again – Groundhog Day for trade negotiators on a grand scale.