WASHINGTON – All 11 nations already negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations may approve Japan’s entry into the talks during an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meeting in Indonesia in April, New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser said.
The meeting of the APEC trade ministers, set for April 20 and 21, “will be the first opportunity for all 11 ministers to get together to consider” whether to approve Japan’s entry, Groser told reporters after delivering a speech Monday in Washington.
The 11 nations “have to find a way to try to get Japan in as soon as possible,” he said.
But Groser also said, “We do understand the political imperative from the Japanese point of view, but we are trying to maintain the high standard at the same time.”
In the speech, Groser welcomed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s announcement earlier this month of Japan’s intent to join the TPP negotiations.
The Japan-U.S. joint statement on the TPP, released after Abe’s meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in February, is consistent with the 11 nations’ TPP policy, Groser said.
The statement said the Japanese and U.S. governments confirm that should Japan participate in the TPP negotiations, all goods will be subject to negotiation for a high-standard free-trade agreement. But it also said the governments recognize the two countries have bilateral trade sensitivities.