IMF chief Christine Lagarde has welcomed Japan’s decision to enter talks towards an Asia-Pacific free trade deal, during a visit to Tokyo where she met with Japanese officials.
‘I welcome Prime Minister (Yoshihiko) Noda’s announcement that Japan will participate in negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP), which can make a vital contribution to this country’s future competitiveness and growth,’ said Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director.
Mystery surrounds Japan’s stance on a major free-trade agreement, with the country’s Prime Minister abruptly cancelling a press conference where he was expected to announce his intention to join the pact. Yoshihiko Noda had been widely tipped to announce that Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, would participate in negotiations to join the US-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The sudden cancellation of the press conference, amid strident opposition from MPs with the ruling party and the farm lobby, has cast doubt on whether Japan will follow Australia, the US and several Asian countries in joining the TPP. Mr Noda said last night he simply wanted to consider the issue overnight before he left for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation meeting in Honolulu, at which US President Barack Obama hopes to make progress on the TPP.