The language of negotiations differs in different societies.
In Japan, it is rare for someone to simply say no.
Instead, the culture is to obliquely mention difficulties, so the fact that the Japanese trade minister has stated that there has been no progress in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) constitutes a major rebuke:
Japan’s Trade Minister Akira Amari said he and his U.S. counterpart made no progress in bilateral talks that are key to an ambitious multilateral trade deal.
“Japan made a flexible proposal, but we weren’t able to make further progress,” Amari told reporters on Wednesday evening in Washington. “Further negotiations are undecided.”
This is unalloyed good news.
The TPP is not about free trade. In most areas (except perhaps for Japanese agricultural products), tariffs are pretty minimal these days.
This is about allowing rent seekers in insurance, finance, and IP protected industries (pharma, software patents, music, etc.) to further increase their profits by manipulating the government rules, i that are integral to their business models.
It’s a good thing that labor, environmental, consumer, and safety regulations aren’t going to be crucified on a cross of “free trade”. ……… For a while, at least.