Japan Ratifies Trans-Pacific Trade Pact

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By Len Bracken

Dec. 9 — The upper house of the Japanese parliament Dec. 9 approved the trans-Pacific trade agreement with the U.S. and 10 other countries, according to a statement from the House of Councillors.

The vote ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) follows the Nov. 10 passage by the House of Representatives that took place just days after the U.S. election.

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to back out of the agreement that was negotiated under the Obama administration. U.S. business representatives have told Bloomberg BNA they hope Trump will walk back his stance against the pact, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Nov. 18 Trump has softened his views on trade in the wake of the election.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump met Nov. 18 in New York, the first meeting with a head of state for Trump as president-elect, but the prime minister would not say whether the TPP was a topic of discussion.

Abe had wanted to secure approval of the TPP before the U.S. election to put pressure on Washington, according to Japanese officials in Tokyo. They said in early November the government wants to signal that Japan is fully committed to implementing the TPP and to refute suggestions that the pact can be reopened to address concerns expressed in the U.S. Congress and elsewhere.

Both Japan and the U.S. must ratify the pact for the deal for it to enter into force because of the minimum threshold stipulated in the pact requiring ratification by six of the member countries that together account for at least 85 percent of the combined gross domestic product of the original members.

The TPP agreement, which includes 30 legal chapters and a section covering tariffs, services and government procurement, has the active support of the U.S. manufacturing, services and agricultural sectors. They see significant benefits in the legal provisions, such as those covering data flows and competition policy for state-owned enterprises, and opportunities for expanding their market share in TPP countries from tariff cuts.

To contact the reporter on this story: Len Bracken in Washington at lbracken@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerome Ashton at jashton@bna.com

For More Information

The statement by the House of Councillors is available in Japanese at http://www.sangiin.go.jp/japanese/ugoki/h28/161209.html.

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