News of Note
Japan’s Interest In Joining Trans-Pacific Partnership
In November 2011, Japan expressed interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), an agreement among countries in the Pacific Rim that seeks to eliminate all tariffs and other barriers against the trade in goods and services among its members. Created in 2005, the TPP is presently comprised of the nine member states of Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. Malaysia and Singapore recently endorsed Japanese membership.
Recent reports indicate that Japanese and American officials are engaged in discussions regarding Japan’s potential entry into the TPP. U.S. concerns primarily revolve around Japan’s assistance to its agricultural sector and automobile industry. Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) of the House Ways and Means Committee; Ranking Member Sander Levin; Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) of the Senate Finance Committee; and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT), jointly expressed their reservations about Japan’s admittance into the TPP, specifically citing Japan’s barriers against agricultural imports. In view of the strength of the agricultural lobby in Japan, and resistance from the U.S. automobile industry, it appears that significant obstacles remain to U.S. acceptance of Japan as a member of the group.