Sixteen Asia-Pacific nations, including economic leaders Japan and China, started the first round of discussions on Thursday for what could be the creation of one of the world's largest free trade groups. The 5-day negotiations held in Brunei will have the 10 member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and six regional trading partners flesh out the first initial details of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as the group aims to create a workable free trade deal by 2015.
The production of rice, its export and import, and the farmers behind this specific industry form a big an influential part not just of Japanese government policy, but of Japanese society as a whole. The lobby to protect the industry – backward and inefficient though it may be – is strong and will do all it can to stay behind the current tariff levels set so high as to discourage imports. And with Japan’s entry to the United States-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the works, a Japanese lobby called Citizen’s Congress for Opposing the Transpacific Partnership is doing a four-day U.S. lobbying tour of Capitol Hill against the proposed treaty and its alleged future effects on the Japanese rice industry.
Not everyone is crazy about "Abenomics" or Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's deflation-busting policies that has resulted in a weaker yen. Around 1,000 squid fishermen are going on strike this weekend to protest the rising fuel costs, a direct result of rapid changes in the economy. This is the first nationwide fishermen's strike in five years.
Acting US trade representative Demetrios Marantis lauded the unanimous decision from the 11 member countries to let Japan participate in the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade talks. He says that this will create a bigger market for American exports and generate domestic employment as well.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade revealed on Wednesday that the country is very close to finally formalizing a free trade agreement with Japan. The Asian country is Australia’s second largest trading partner, and both parties have been targeting to finish the deal before Japan formally joins the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Japan Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, speaking to reporters on Sunday along with United States Secretary of State John Kerry, said that Japan’s eventual inclusion into the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade group would only bring greater strategic importance to the entity. He also stated that if ever Japan would be inducted into the multi-lateral trade pact, it would only serve to strengthen Japan’s relations with the U.S.
A group of Japanese university professors have submitted a petition to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and farm minister Yoshimasa Hayashi urging the government to stop their participation in the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement. The petition was signed by over 800 members of the Japanese academic community.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, on an official visit to Tokyo since Sunday, said that his country should look towards Japan's example when it comes to development and innovation. He believes the secret towards Mexico overcoming the drug and violence problem it has faced the past decades is to focus not on vigilante justice, but instead on economic development, with Tokyo as its "template".
According to economic revitalization minister Akira Amari, Japan is in the final stages of bilateral negotiations with the United States before President Barack Obama will seek the approval of the US Congress to allow Japan to officially join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks. After the approval process which will take 90 days, Japan can finally join the negotiation round in July with the other 11 countries that are part of the talks.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who arrived in Japan on Sunday for an official visit, will most likely show his support for the country as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had recently revealed that the country plans to join the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. The treaty is being backed by the United States to create a Pacific-wide free trade zone, and as Mexico is already on board, government officials have revealed that the visiting leader may announce his backing of Japan’s plans shortly.