/

Cabinet approves TPP bills, to step up explaining pact’s benefits

Kyodo

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday approved a set of bills to bring into effect the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The government aims to have the free-trade pact ratified and the bills enacted during the current Diet session.

TPP requires Japan to remove tariffs on 95.1 percent of farm, industrial and other imported products in value terms. In return, the government anticipates a boost to Japan’s real gross domestic product of ¥13.6 trillion, or 2.59 percent, from fiscal 2014.

Abe told Cabinet ministers the administration needs to foster public understanding, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. The prime minister urged ministers to explain what the deal means in practice.

Nobuteru Ishihara, the minister in charge of TPP, told a news conference following the meeting that he hopes to “build momentum” toward ratification of the pact in other countries by ensuring that Japan takes the lead in proceeding with domestic arrangements for it.

The comment comes as some countries seem unlikely to implement the pact swiftly and smoothly.

In the United States, top lawmakers are cautious about discussing the deal before November’s presidential election, given that many of the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates are opposed to the accord.

Twelve nations signed the pact last month, agreeing to remove or lower tariffs and introduce unified international trade and investment rules under the deal that covers 40 percent of the global economy. TPP’s details were agreed last year.

The agreement will enter into force 60 days after all 12 countries ratify it. But if all 12 nations have not ratified it after two years, it will take effect 60 days after at least six countries, accounting for 85 percent of the combined gross domestic product of the 12 signatories, do so.

A total of 11 laws need to be revised in Japan to include new rules and protections against changes brought by TPP.

Copyrights and trademarks, for example, will be preserved for 70 years after the creators die under the deal, longer than the current 50 years in Japan, while the government seeks to help pig farmers by compensating losses they may incur due to stiff competition with cheaper imports.

Deliberations on the bills are expected to start next month at a panel to be set up in the House of Representatives. Another panel will also be established in the House of Councilors.