U.S. trade hawk coming to Japan to discuss TPP


U.S. Sen. Max Baucus announced Thursday he will visit Tokyo for talks on Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade negotiations.

As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which deals with trade policy, the Montana Democrat is seen as a key figure in Washington’s decision on whether to allow Japan to join the U.S.-led trade initiative.

According to his office, Baucus was set to depart Friday for Japan and New Zealand.

In Tokyo, he will meet with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba and Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano to “discuss the possibility of Japan joining the TPP negotiations in the future,” Baucus’ office said.

His visit is considered significant as the U.S. government weighs the intentions of Congress over approving new participants in the TPP discussions. To formally enter the talks, Japan needs to gain the approval of all countries currently involved, including the United States and New Zealand.

The TPP is “a window of opportunity for our (U.S.) exports to reach new consumers in markets across the Pacific,” Baucus said. “Through the TPP, we can help ensure our trading partners play by the rules and open their markets to American exports.”