Exporters dreaming of tariff abolition

Kyodo

After Friday’s bilateral summit in Washington paved the way for Japan to join negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade accord, many domestic companies expressed hope that the abolition of tariffs would help drive up Japanese exports.

Major business industry groups also voiced a positive view Saturday, with the Japan Association of Corporative Executives (Keizai Doyukai) and the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry issuing separate statements urging the government to announce Japan’s participation in the ongoing TPP discussions.

Keizai Doyukai Chairman Yasuchika Hasegawa said it is a “big step toward entering the negotiations,” referring to a joint statement issued by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday confirming Japan will not be required to scrap all import tariffs before joining the multilateral talks.

Tadashi Okamura, chairman of the commerce chamber, said the TPP is “part of important economic growth strategies being promoted by the Abe administration.”

But he added it is nevertheless important that the government take measures to shield local economies and the agriculture and fisheries industries from any negative impact if Japan joins the regional free-trade initiative.

Meanwhile, an official of a major domestic automaker also expressed hope Saturday that the Abe-Obama statement will hasten Japan’s entry to the TPP talks.