Japan has announced it will seek to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the BBC reports.
The free trade agreement is currently being negotiated among 11 countries. It aims to foster closer ties and boost trade in goods and services between the member countries.
However, there have been protests in Japan against the pact, amid fears it may hurt certain sectors, particularly the farming industry.
Ng Bee Kim, the lead negotiator for Singapore, said at the latest round of TPP talks that Japan would be allowed to participate only if existing members agreed it could “keep up the good momentum” at the talks, BBC said.
The U.S. manufacturing and business industries have released their cautious reactions to Japan’s announcement:
“We should welcome and encourage Japan’s interest in freer trade, but let’s not roll out the red carpet for their inclusion in the TPP,” said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, in a written statement. “Japan’s closed market, currency manipulation and many other concerns stand in the way. It’s not worth sacrificing American jobs and American manufacturing to secure a TPP agreement at any cost.”
Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, also stressed the importance of not allowing the TPP negotiations to be slowed down, but welcomed Japan’s intention to join. He said NAM supports the inclusion of new member countries into the TPP talks, such as Canada and Mexico, which have already joined, as well as Japan, as long as they join the negotiations on a comprehensive basis.
“The Business Roundtable supports Japan’s inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership based on their acceptance of its high standards,” said Doug Oberhelman, chair of Business Roundtable’s international engagement committee, and chairman and CEO of Caterpillar, in a release. “Japan’s joining the negotiations would make the TPP an even stronger engine for promoting U.S. growth, opening markets and ensuring strong two-way rules for international trade.”