N.Z. trade chief: Farmers can thrive after TPP

Kyodo

Japan’s farmers should be able to weather the shock from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement with time and technical help from its trading partners, New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser asserted Friday in Tokyo.

When Japanese tariffs on imported food are removed by the TPP, projections show that parts of its agriculture industry will be obliterated. But these projections fail to account for the positive influence of innovation and cooperation, Groser said at a news conference ahead of a trip to meet farmers in Hokkaido.

Japan could expand its existing ties to use the agricultural expertise of New Zealand and other partners in the 12-party TPP, the minister said.

“A TPP deal should, over time, lead to much deeper commercial ties between Japan and other TPP partner countries,” Groser said, specifying new investment, development of services, technology flows and research and development cooperation in the sector.

Groser met with economic and fiscal policy minister Akira Amari and spoke at the Japan/New Zealand Partnership Forum on Thursday, discussing a partnership on food to take advantage of the countries’ complementary expertise and food-growing conditions.

Between Sunday and Tuesday, Groser will visit Hokkaido, a region strong in agriculture, to canvass farmers and related groups on the partnership’s potential.

As for farmers’ reservations about the TPP, Groser said opposition is natural but stems from a “fear of change.”

“No country can sit forever on what might have earlier been a winning formula,” Groser said. “The world moves on.”

Groser lauded the economic reforms promised by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, saying they provide the opportunity for both domestic and foreign investment in a sector that has “all been downhill.”

On the significance of TPP talks, Groser said these can do some of the work of the stalled global trade talks at the World Trade Organization, along with the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations between the United States and the European Union.

Groser suggested that if the TPP and TTIP succeed, parties can “reverse engineer” the agreements back to the WTO, but that some issues, including agricultural subsidies, will ultimately need to be solved at the Geneva-based trade watchdog.

Cabinet preps for political portion of TPP talks

Kyodo

Cabinet members drawing up Japan’s strategy for negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership gathered Friday to prepare for an upcoming summit where the 12 participating countries will try to hammer out a basic accord on the free trade pact.

TPP minister Akira Amari repeated his pledge to facilitate the trade talks on more difficult subjects that need political decisions among the 21 fields covered, as the ministers shared information from the chief negotiators’ latest meeting this month in Washington.

“People with the authority will gather and make progress on difficult issues toward a conclusion under their authority” at the Bali round of TPP talks, Amari said after the meeting.

The TPP members are scheduled to hold meetings of chief negotiators, ministers and leaders from Tuesday through Oct. 8, aiming to reach a basic agreement and pave the way for concluding a deal by yearend.

“The Bali round will be the key stage for our country as well as the TPP negotiations,” said Amari.