Kishida pushes Latin American ties

Kyodo

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has a message for Latin America: Tokyo will strive to “boldly” expand free trade through its participation in Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

In a speech Monday in Mexico City on Japan’s engagement in Latin America, Kishida stressed Japan’s intention to seek mutual prosperity by forging stronger ties with the region’s countries, which are undergoing rapid economic growth.

Meanwhile, he agreed with Mexican Foreign Secretary Jose Antonio Meade and Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo in separate talks to strengthen bilateral coordination in the TPP negotiations, which Japan is expected to join in July and which participating countries are aiming to conclude by the end of this year, Japanese officials said.

Japan will follow Mexico and Canada as late entrants in the talks currently involving 11 countries.

Noting that the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is working hard to revive its economy after decades of anemic growth, the foreign policy chief said in the speech that Japan will try to lead global development by turning perceived difficulties, including its shrinking population, into opportunities.

Kishida also disclosed plans to hold talks with representatives of the 33-member Community of Latin American and Caribbean States by the end of this year in a bid to strengthen ties with the region in such fields as climate change and development.

During his talks with the Mexican foreign and economic ministers, Kishida stressed that he sees many areas of possible cooperation between the two countries, requesting speedier processing of visas and better security for Japanese firms seeking expansion into Mexico.

The Mexican ministers welcomed Japan’s envisioned participation in the TPP talks and indicated their readiness to work hard to better prepare the business environment for Japanese firms, according to the officials.

Kishida is traveling in Latin America this week, with plans to also visit Peru and Panama. He is due to return to Japan on Sunday.

The countries already engaged in the TPP negotiations — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam — are considering holding talks in late July in Malaysia.