• Kyodo


Japan’s minister in charge of trade talks said Tuesday that six countries will likely finish the domestic procedures necessary to ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in November, paving the way for the 11-member free trade pact to take effect early next year.

Japan and the other 10 countries are keen to implement the pact, formerly known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, amid rising global trade tension, particularly between the United States and China.

“We can now expect that six countries will finish domestic procedures in November after listening to what each ambassador said about their situations at home,” Toshimitsu Motegi, economic revitalization minister, told reporters after meeting in Tokyo with envoys of the 10 countries.

“Japan will take a leading role in making sure that the pact will take effect early next year,” Motegi said.

He expressed his hope to have a clear time frame by mid-November, when a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum will be held in Papua New Guinea.

The accord will come into force 60 days after at least six countries have ended their domestic procedures. So far, Japan, Mexico and Singapore have completed the process, with Australia, Canada and New Zealand seeking to do so by the end of the year.

After U.S. President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the pact in January 2017, the remaining 11 members signed the revised TPP in March this year.

Japan has been promoting a multilateral approach to trade issues and the CPTPP is viewed as symbolic of its push. In September, however, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed with Trump, who favors bilateral deals, to start negotiations for a trade agreement on goods.

“The early implementation of the 11-member TPP will create a free and fair architecture based on new rules and send a strong message to the rest of the world in times of rising protectionism” Motegi said.

The U.K., Colombia, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea are believed to be interested in joining the CPTPP.

During his meeting with the envoys at the Prime Minister’s Office, Motegi explained how Tokyo plans to proceed in upcoming trade talks with the United States. Trump has taken issue with the country’s huge trade deficit with Japan.

Japan has claimed that the envisaged agreement will focus on goods and will be different to a free trade agreement that is more comprehensive.

Motegi said Tokyo will not make bigger concessions than what has already been agreed to under existing free trade agreements such as the CPTPP.

Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam are also part of the pact.

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