Trade minister Akihiro Ohata said Wednesday the timeline for the government to decide whether to join talks on a Pacific free-trade agreement is unclear, although Prime Minister Naoto Kan said a day earlier it should be around June.
“We always have to make efforts, but the situation is quite difficult . . . and the reality is that I can’t say when (the decision will be made),” Ohata said, apparently mindful of opposition among politicians and farmers to joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact.
Ohata also stressed that Kan only said June is “one target” and the prime minister did “not say anything clearly.”
In June, the government plans to come up with a basic policy on how to improve the competitiveness of the heavily subsidized agricultural sector, which wants no part of the TPP because it would entail the elimination of farm tariffs.
“Even if there is a will, there are issues that won’t show progress without understanding and cooperation,” Ohata said. “Whether the decision should be made in June or fall depends on the situation.”
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