News / Asia

Japan, US Agree on Tokyo Joining Trans-Pacific Trade Talks

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) speaks to media after a meeting with cabinet ministers at his official residence in Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo, April 12, 2013.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) speaks to media after a meeting with cabinet ministers at his official residence in Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo, April 12, 2013.
Reuters
Japan and the United States have agreed on a deal to allow Tokyo to join talks on a U.S.-led Asia-Pacific free trade pact that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is making a keystone of his strategy to open Japan's economy and spur long-sought growth.
    
The agreement brings Japan closer to entering talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Japan hopes to participate in as early as July.
    
“Japan and the United States have reached an agreement on Japan's participation in the TPP talks,” Abe told reporters on Friday after a meeting with cabinet ministers.
    
“I think Japan's national interests are protected under this U.S.-Japan agreement,” he said, adding he hoped Japan could take part in the negotiations as soon as possible.
    
In Washington, Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis said Japan had agreed to “a robust package of actions and agreements” to address U.S. concerns in the automotive, insurance and other sectors.

“As a result, we are pleased to welcome Japan's participation in the TPP negotiations pending a consensus agreement among the current TPP members and the completion of our respective domestic processes,” Marantis said.

Still, a key U.S. lawmaker reserved judgment on the deal.

“I will not support Japan's entry into TPP unless we obtain airtight assurances that Japan's participation in the TPP negotiations will neither diminish the comprehensive and ambitious nature of these negotiations nor delay the goal of concluding the negotiations this year,” said House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican.
    
Abe's "third arrow"

Abe last month announced his decision to join the trade talks - despite fierce opposition from Japan's politically powerful farm lobby - as part of a “third arrow” in his “Abenomics” policy triad, after fiscal spending and drastic monetary policy easing.

Japan needs formal approval by all 11 participating countries to take part in the talks. If Japan does join, the pact would cover an area that accounts for almost 40 percent of world economic output.

The U.S.-Japan agreement allows the White House to give Congress 90-days' notice that it plans to start trade negotiations in time for Japan to participate in a July round of TPP talks.

U.S. labor groups had been worried about the impact of removing U.S. tariffs on autos.
    
But Tokyo and Washington agreed that the United States would phase out its auto tariffs - 2.5 percent on cars and 25 percent on trucks - over the longest period possible under the future TPP deal, the Japanese government said in a statement.

They also confirmed that certain industrial products were “sensitive” for the United States while certain farm products were “sensitive” for Japan, and agreed to keep talking bilaterally about non-tariff barriers in areas such as insurance and investment, it said.

New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser said last month the TPP member nations could formally decide whether to allow Japan into the talks when the 21-member trade officials meet in Indonesia on April 20-21 for the annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Countries in the trade talks include Canada, Mexico, Australia, Chile, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei. The member countries aim to strike a deal by the end of this year.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More