Friday, April 19, 2013
William H. Cooper
Specialist in International Trade and Finance
Mark E. Manyin
Specialist in Asian Affairs
On March 15, 2013, Prime Minister Abe announced that Japan would formally seek to participate in the negotiations to establish the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Japan’s membership in the TPP with the United States would constitute a de facto U.S.-Japan FTA. On April 12, 2013, the United States announced its support for Japan’s participation in the TPP. The announcement comes after a series of discussions on conditions for U.S. support and outstanding bilateral issues. As a result of the discussions the two sides agreed on measures to address these issues during and in parallel with the main TPP negotiations. Japan’s participation is still contingent on a consensus among the 11 current TPP partners to allow Japan to do so.
The TPP would be a free trade agreement (FTA) among at least the current 11 participants— Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. The United States and its TPP partners envision the agreement as “a comprehensive, next-generation regional agreement that liberalizes trade and investment and addresses new and traditional trade issues and 21st century challenges.”
Congress has a direct and oversight role in the issue of U.S. participation in the TPP. It must approve implementing legislation, if the TPP is to apply to the United States. Some Members of Congress have already weighed in on whether Japan should be allowed to participate in the TPP and under what conditions. More may do so as the process proceeds.
The TPP is the leading U.S. trade policy initiative of the Obama Administration and a core component of Administration efforts to “rebalance” U.S. foreign policy priorities toward the Asia- Pacific region by playing a more active role in shaping the region’s rules and norms. As the second-largest economy in Asia, the third-largest economy in the world, and a key link in global supply/production chains, Japan’s participation would be pivotal to enhancing the credibility and viability of the TPP as a regional free trade arrangement.
A large segment of the U.S. business community has expressed support for Japanese participation in the TPP, if Japan can resolve long-standing issues on access to its markets for U.S. goods and services. However, the Detroit-based U.S. auto industry and the UAW union have expressed strong opposition to Japan participating in the TPP negotiations.
The TPP issue presents both risks and opportunities for the United States and Japan. On the one hand, if successful, it could reinvigorate an economic relationship that has remained steady but stagnant, by forcing the two countries to address long-standing, difficult issues, and allowing them to raise their relationship to a higher level. On the other hand, failure to do so could indicate that the underlying problems are too fundamental to overcome and could set back the relationship. It could signify the failure of the United States and/or Japan to deal with domestic opposition to a more open trade relationship.
In moving to enter the TPP talks, Prime Minister Abe has had to confront influential domestic interests that argued against the move. Among the most vocal have been Japanese farmers, especially rice farmers, and their representatives. In his March 15 statement, Prime Minister Abe acknowledged these domestic sensitivities, but also insisted that Japan needed to take advantage of “this last window of opportunity” to enter the negotiations, if it is to grow economically. Other Japanese business interests, including manufacturers, strongly support the TPP.
Date of Report: April 12, 2013
Number of Pages: 22
Order Number: R42676
R42676.pdf to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART
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