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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid