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Tokyo approves bill in next step toward enactment of new Trans-Pacific Partnership

JIJI

The Diet approved a bill Wednesday to ratify the 11-country Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The bill was adopted at a plenary session of the Upper House by a majority vote, with support mainly from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito. The Lower House passed the bill in May.

The parliamentary approval is expected to help speed up related domestic procedures and add momentum toward the realization of an early enactment of the agreement.

In order to ratify the pact, Japan also needs to enact TPP-related legislation, which cleared the Lower House last month and includes measures to support the domestic agricultural sector and reinforce the protection of intellectual property rights.

The government and the ruling coalition hope to ensure the measure is enacted during the current Diet session.

The pact mainly seeks to slash tariffs on farm and industrial products, protect intellectual property rights, simplify customs procedures and establish rules on e-commerce. It was signed in March by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The TPP deal will enter into force once six or more countries complete their domestic procedures. Mexico has already completed those steps.

U.S. President Donald Trump in 2017 withdrew his country from the original 12-nation TPP to shift his focus to bilateral trade deals.

Next month, Japan and the United States will hold their first talks aimed at “free, fair and reciprocal” bilateral trade. Tokyo hopes to complete its TPP-related domestic procedures ahead of the talks.