Japan Wants Spot at Table for Trade Initiative Talks

As negotiations begin for Pacific trade accord Canada and Japan want to be included.

Published on: Nov 14, 2011

Japan's Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, has expressed his nation's intention to begin consultations with Trans-Pacific Partnership countries towards joining the TPP negotiations. Ministers from the nine TPP countries met Friday in Honolulu, Hawaii. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk welcomed the move, saying  they look forward to engaging with the Japanese in these discussions. Kirk says he believes Japan's interest in the TPP demonstrates the economic and strategic importance of this initiative to the region.

To join the negotiations, Japan must be prepared to meet the TPP's high standards for liberalizing trade and to address specific issues of concern to the United States regarding barriers to agriculture, services, and manufacturing trade, including non-tariff measures. The National Pork Producers Council announced that the U.S. pork industry strongly supports Japan's entry into the TPP, and NPPC urges the United States and the other TPP countries to accede to Japan's request.

NPPC President Doug Wolf, a pork producer from Lancaster, Wis., says pork producers would gain tremendous market opportunities with Japan as part of the TPP. The U.S. pork industry last year exported nearly $4.8 billion of pork, an amount that added about $56 to the price producers received for each hog marketed.

The Trans- Pacific Partnership accord, which would be the biggest U.S. pact since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, also was joined by Canada. Noda and Canadian premier Stephen Harper told the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit they will join the talks, which may help the U.S. regain influence lost to China in a region that’s leading global growth.

Expanding the accord to add the world’s third and tenth biggest economies may face political hurdles as leaders fight protectionism at home. Noda faces domestic opposition to the prospect of reducing a 778% tariff on rice, and delayed his announcement a day to placate members of his own party.