Japan Likely to Join Free Trade Pact

The Japanese government recently hinted that it wanted to be included in negotiations to form a Pacific Rim free trade zone, and that the island nation was willing to allow their long-protected farm industry to be included in the trade agreement.
Recently, US Trade Representatives Ron Kirk hinted at the possible formation of a major new free trade zone in the Pacific Rim. The trade agreement would include 10 nations across the Pacific- Australia, Vietnam, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Peru, Canada, and Brunei.
While Japan, which has long embraced protectionist policies, especially for its struggling agricultural sector (rice tariffs, for example, are 800 percent, with butter and sugar tariffs at about 300 percent), had not initially indicated interest in joining the agreement, recent statements by the Japanese Prime Minister suggest that this reluctance is quickly changing.
In particular, many Japanese politicians see joining this agreement as one of the few options Japan has left to revitalize its economy. According to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, “Japan has run into a big wall — low birthrate, aging and lingering deflation — and we have turned inward looking. If Japan becomes the only one that turns inward, there is no chance for our growth. No businesses would want to invest in such a country and talented people would not be interested.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer