I wonder if anyone in the Congress has been even aware that the Obama administration has been negotiating for the US to join this free-trade trade block with the Pacific Rim countries.
As far as Japan goes, the media and the Abe administration have been breathlessly touting the numerous benefits of joining the trade block, while the prime minister himself has admitted he doesn't clearly know what's involved. But not to worry, TPP will help pull Japan from 2 decades in the economic and societal doldrums! No one clearly explains how.
From the so-called economics experts in Japan comes this "argument" that unless Japan joins TPP now, the nation will be left out in the world.
In the case of the US, TPP is to be sold by the Obama Administration as "job creator". Sounds all too familiar.
The Office of the US Trade Representative's press release (4/24/2013; emphasis is original):
Obama Administration Notifies Congress of Intent to Include Japan in Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations
Washington, D.C. – The Obama Administration today notified Congress of its intent to include Japan in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement negotiations. This notification follows an announcement on April 12, 2013 that the United States and Japan had completed bilateral TPP consultations, as well as an announcement by TPP countries on April 21, 2013 that they welcome Japan as a new participant in the TPP negotiations, pending the successful completion of domestic procedures by each TPP country. Today’s notification triggers a 90-day consultation period with Congress and the public on U.S. negotiating objectives with respect to Japan. Acting United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis noted in a letter to lawmakers that Japan’s entry into this important negotiation will help to deliver significant economic benefits for the United States, Japan and the Asia-Pacific region.
“The participation of Japan, a major U.S. trading partner as well as close ally, further increases the economic significance of a TPP Agreement. With Japan’s entry, TPP countries would account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP and about one-third of all world trade," wrote Ambassador Marantis. “As we have done thus far, we will work with Congress as we use the TPP Agreement to promote new technologies and emerging economic sectors, create new opportunities for U.S. exporters, including small- and medium-sized businesses, in the region, and help U.S. firms participate in production and supply chains in order to encourage investment and production in the United States. We value the partnership we have established with Congress on the TPP negotiations and look forward to maintaining it as we discuss U.S. objectives and carry out negotiations to conclude this important new agreement.”
Furthermore, the United States will conduct bilateral, parallel negotiations with Japan to address concerns in the automotive sector and non-tariff measures in other sectors. The Obama Administration will consult closely with Congress and stakeholders on the elements of these negotiations during the 90-day consultation period.
The TPP is a key element of the Obama Administration’s efforts to support the creation and retention of high-quality jobs for Americans by increasing exports to the vibrant economies of the Asia-Pacific region. The United States and its TPP partners are determined to expeditiously complete a comprehensive, next-generation agreement. In addition to the United States, the current TPP countries include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
To view a copy of the notification letter to Congress, click here. For more information on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the upcoming negotiating round in Lima, Peru, please visit www.ustr.gov/tpp.
"The TPP is a key element of the Obama Administration’s efforts to support the creation and retention of high-quality jobs for Americans by increasing exports to the vibrant economies of the Asia-Pacific region" ???
What vibrant economies?
TPP current members (original members of the 2005 Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement):
TPP prospective members:
the United States
and now Japan.
My personal take of this trade block is to give Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru the two of the three largest economies in the world, the US and Japan, as their markets to sell to.
For some reason, Mr. Abe is very eager to join TPP so that he can protect the beautiful, lush and fertile farmland in Japan. The Cabinet Office has released the official paper that says agricultural production in Japan will decrease by 3.4 trillion yen per year if Japan joins TPP. Japan's agricultural production is about 8.2 trillion yen in fiscal 2011, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
I guess Mr. Abe just wants to look back on what it used to be in Japan in dreamy-eyed nostalgia (as he inhales radon gas to calm his stomach, as the baseless rumor goes...).