Japan’s decision to participate in negotiations on the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement has angered the country’s farmers and raising manufacturers’ hopes of removing trade barriers.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is expected to convey his TPP decision to President Barack Obama during a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to be held over the weekend in Honolulu.
The TPP is a regional free trade initiative being negotiated among the U.S. and eight other Asia-Pacific countries — Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The nine countries are set to announce the broad outline of the multilateral trade deal during the upcoming APEC summit.
“For our nation, which has achieved prosperity as a trading nation, to pass on its affluence to the next generation, it must absorb the growth potential of the Asia-Pacific region,” Noda said.
The TPP is intended to require member economies to scrap all import tariffs in principle. In Japan, there is strong opposition to joining the TPP as the politically sensitive and heavily protected farm sector is likely to be hit hard by an influx of cheaper agricultural imports due to the tariff-cutting pact.
Japan, now the world’s third-largest economy after the U.S. and China, is heavily reliant on exports for growth. “Japan is one lap behind China and South Korea in terms of a high level of economic partnership.” Noda said before taking office in September.
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