Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Friday that the TPP was turning the Pacific region into a “huge economic zone”, and that Japan needed to “actively engage” in the talks to ensure that they were as advantageous as possible for the country.
“This is the last chance. If we miss this opportunity, it would immediately mean we would be left out of setting global regulations on free trade,” he told reporters.
“If Japan becomes only inward-looking, there will no longer be a chance of economic growth.”
The move is likely to anger Japan’s livestock sector, which has raised concerns over potentially harmful effect that tariff reductions on imported products could have on domestic producers. However, Abe promised to safeguard the interests of Japanese industry. “What we really should fear is doing nothing,” he said.
The 11 countries currently in the TPP – the US, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam – will now consider Japan’s application to join the talks.
US pork benefits
The US pork industry has urged the US government and other heads of state to “swiftly accept” the Asian nation into the TPP, pointing out that it would “exponentially increase” the importance of the TPP to pork producers.
“Japan’s entry into the negotiations will spur interest in the TPP among other countries in Asia and Latin America, and it will signal to other nations that efforts to negotiate more open and transparent trading arrangements will continue, even as multilateral efforts to do so are stymied,” said National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) president Randy Spronk.
“We call on the US and the other TPP countries to quickly welcome Japan into the TPP. We look forward to working closely with the Obama administration and Congress to fashion an agreement that pork producers can strongly endorse.”
Acting US trade representative Demetrios Marantis said the US was already in talks with Japan on several issues related to its potential TPP entry, and would “continue to consult with Congress and stakeholders” as it proceceeded with these discussions.