TPP & the case for Japan

Day one of the Japan New Zealand Business Council’s annual conference is well underway today in Auckland. The need for stronger business ties between New Zealand and Japan was common rhetoric throughout the day, perhaps no stronger than from NZIBF Executive Director – Stephen Jacobi.

Jacobi has been a vocal proponent for the ambitious Trans-Pacific Patnership trade agreement, wasting no time today in calling out Japan for their reluctance to join the trade partnership. The TPP aims to be a comprehensive agreement, seeking to align economic agenda’s across member nations. The TPP has however found little support inside Japan to date, opposed by both the ruling Democratic party and the opposing Liberal party.

John Key met with Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda following the APEC summit earlier this year in an effort to further push for Japanese involvement in the TPP, but failed to come away with any assurances. Noda is openly sympathetic to the TPP, but given the current Japanese political environment, any major moves would appear unlikely.

“Japan will need to decide for itself whether it is in Japan’s interest to be part of or stand aside from the move towards greater economic integration through TPP and FTAAP.”

“There is no doubt that Japan’s involvement would help strengthen TPP’s credentials as a pathway to a wider agreement in the Asia Pacific region and would increase the gains to the region’s economy.”

Japan was also being courted by the competing ASEAN+6 agreement also involving New Zealand. Time was of the essence however, with Jacobi expecting the TPP to be substantially concluded within the next year.

“Whether Japan ultimately joins the first phase of TPP with the eleven other partners or seeks to join a second phase is something that remains very much in the balance.”

The 15th round of TPP negotiations take place in Auckland during December with eleven economies currently involved.

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