Japan’s Shinzo Abe committed to join Trans-Pacific free trade talks
Tokyo, Japan (4E) – Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he is committed to join the ranks of 11 other countries including the U.S. on a proposed trade deal in the face of efforts by rice farmers and other lobby groups to block moves to ease import barriers.
Abe said during a televised address that the pact, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is the final opportunity for Japan to remain as an economic power in Asia and as a major influence in the region’s direction.
He told the nation in a televised press conference that the trade deal is the last chance for the country, and warned that Japan will be left behind in creating global rules if it decides not to join
Among the countries joining the TPP, Japan would be the second-biggest economy and its inclusion would strengthen the impact of the trade pact that is envisioned to set the standards for trade in the region including China, which is currently not taking part of the talks.
Abe’s support for the free-trade is a major political risk given the strong opposition from the country’s farming lobby and other interest groups. The biggest agricultural cooperative in Japan has strongly objected trade liberalization.
U.S. president Barack Obama has given top priority to trade agreements like the TPP for his second term, and negotiators are working to finalize a deal by September.