FTAs key to long-term growth: METI

Kyodo

Japan should pursue free-trade accords and capitalize on the growth of emerging economies to achieve long-term economic growth amid rapid aging of its population, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in its annual white paper Tuesday.

The nation’s growth has been stalled since the 1990s and for decades its productivity level has remained less than 60 percent of that of the United States, the paper says.

“If tariff and nontariff barriers are eliminated through the pursuit of economic partnerships . . . it would promote economic activities that would contribute to increase the productivity of the overall Japanese economy,” it said.

The economic partnerships include the Trans-Pacific Partnership, whose talks Japan is expected to join next month as the 12th member of the negotiations, and a trilateral deal being discussed with China and South Korea.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government seeks to raise the proportion of trade with FTA counterparts by value terms to 70 percent of total trade by 2018, from the current 19 percent.

The paper also stated that Japan must be more strategic about cultivating markets in regions such as China, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Russia, South America and Africa.