WASHINGTON – The United States government on Wednesday notified Congress of its intent to include Japan in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative said, meaning Japan could enter as early as July.
“Today’s notification triggers a 90-day consultation period with Congress and the public on U.S. negotiating objectives with respect to Japan,” the office said.
“The participation of Japan, a major U.S. trading partner as well as close ally, further increases the economic significance of a TPP agreement,” acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis said in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner.
“With Japan’s entry, TPP countries would account for nearly 40 percent of global gross domestic product and about one-third of all world trade,” he said.
In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga welcomed the notification, saying it presented a “clear vision” for Japan’s entry into the talks.
“Japan will make use of its strong negotiating power to realize national interests,” the government’s top spokesman said. Tokyo “seeks to take the lead in making new rules over trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Since Japan’s participation in the TPP is expected to be viewed as promoting trade liberalization on the Pacific Rim, China and South Korea may face pressure over their own positions.
The notification came after the 11 countries already in the free-trade talks said Saturday that they welcome Japan’s entry.