Japan as TPP Game-Changer

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Less than a month removed from the announcement by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that his nation would seek a seat at the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiating table, the Obama Administration has given its approval to the move.  Adding Japan to the TPP represents a global economic game-changer. 

Word came this morning from Acting USTR Demetrios Marantis

 

“[W]e 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. Japan’s entry into this important initiative for the Asia-Pacific region will help it to deliver significant economic benefits to the United States, Japan and the Asia-Pacific region.”

 

…and Prime Minister Abe.

 

“I believe the national interests of Japan have been firmly protected with this agreement,” Abe commented to reporters after a Cabinet meeting in Tokyo earlier today. “By participating in the negotiations, we’d like to play a leading role in the TPP (discussions).”

 

The TPP is the first major trade agreement to cover a swath of next-generation trade issues, with the potential to provide a major economic boom not only to the United States but also to the world.  Including Japan in the talks will result in a more vibrant, more commercially meaningful trade agreement for all of the nations involved.

With Japan in the TPP, the participating countries’ share of the world economy increases from roughly 30 percent to 38 percent.  As the second-largest economy in Asia, the third-largest economy in the world, and a key link in the global supply chains, Japan’s participation in the TPP is pivotal to the credibility of the initiative as a full-blown, regional trade arrangement. 

Japan’s participation will also serve as a de facto U.S.-Japanese trade agreement, as many of the tough issues that have seem to have stalled further deepening of our bilateral economic relationship certainly will be addressed in the TPP talks.  The United States and Japan, by themselves, account for 30 percent of global GDP.  Our two-way goods trade volume is considerable as well, amounting to more than $216 billion last year.

In his budget released this week, President Obama said the United States would push to conclude TPP talks this calendar year.  That’s an aggressive goal, but certainly one we support.  The global economy stands to gain substantially from a high-standard, comprehensive free trade agreement that is economically significant, cross-cutting, and forward looking.  This is what the TPP should be and the tech sector will help to play its part to ensure this happens.

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