Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared on Tuesday that Japan and the United States are working together to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade talks to an early conclusion. Abe spoke in front of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris and said that locking up the negotiations for the 12-nation pact was high on Tokyo and Washington’s agenda.
“Japan and the United States will act in cooperation to accelerate negotiations further towards the early conclusion of negotiations by the 12 participating countries as a whole,” Abe said in his address. The Japanese premier has gone on record saying that the trade deals with Europe and the United States are crucial for Japan. This statement comes even as Tokyo has been unable to wrap up negotiations with Washington last month because Abe feels the need to protect the traditionally powerful farming lobby in Japan.
Abe, due to hold an EU summit in Brussels today, seemed optimistic about the possibility of a free-trade pact with the European Union. “We will certainly be able to overcome small differences in our positions,” he said. “I believe that an EPA between Japan and the EU should be concluded at the earliest possible time.” Japan and the U.S. began pushing for the conclusion of a free trade deal last month, as Washington had been visibly frustrated at the trade stance of Tokyo on some agricultural products. Even EU trade negotiators were also told to pull the plug on negotiations if Japan did not budge on the issue of tariffs on agricultural products and cars. The negotiations for the EU trade pact began in April 2013, and Japan needs to show sufficient progress for the talks to move forward.