No free pass: USTR insists Japan must be up to TPP’s ‘high standards’


The United States will continue to urge Japan to meet the “high standards” of market-opening rules shared by nine countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations if it wants to formally join the free-trade talks, according to a report by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

“The U.S. continues to make clear that any new participants must be able to meet the high standards agreed by all TPP negotiating partners and be prepared to address specific issues of concern,” says the 2012 trade policy agenda report, released Thursday.

“As we consider Japan’s expression of possible interest in joining the TPP negotiations, the administration (of President Barack Obama) will work closely with Congress and stakeholders to assess Japan’s readiness” to adhere to the ambitious rules envisioned, the report says.

Through the TPP, Washington will “seek to boost U.S. economic growth and support the creation and retention of high-quality American jobs,” the report says.

Japan needs approval for its participation from all nine countries. Some have already informed Japan of their support while others, including the U.S., have yet to announce their stance.

The current participants are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S. and Vietnam.

End of all tariffs urged


The government says it was informed during recent preliminary talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership that a number of the negotiating countries are calling for the abolition of all tariffs within seven years.

The information was included in a government release on the outcome of recent preliminary talks with Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore over Japan’s bid to participate in the TPP negotiations.

According to the release, Japan was told that there are a number of countries calling for the immediate elimination of tariffs on 90 to 95 percent of items and the abolition of the remaining tariffs in stages within seven years after the TPP takes effect.

At least one of the four countries told Japan that TPP member countries are not negotiating any exemptions from the tariff elimination, according to the government.