You Ought to Know The Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Taking a quick poll of current trending news, using that word loosely, you will notice that the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) is largely missing from the media. Why?One reason is due to the U.S government stalemate over the fiscal ceiling that, if left unresolved, could lead to ramifications we could sum up as cray banger.

    The Trade-Pacific Partnership, Initially under the acronym TPSEP, planned to liberalize trade in the Asia-Pacific region among  Brunei, Chile, Singapore, and New Zealand. After several negotiations with original members new candidate countries are being considered into the agreement; some of which include Mexico, the United States, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Japan. The United states began courting the TPP in early 2008 under the Bush administration’s leadership and now under Obama’s administration is being completed.  The TPP’s main priority is to “free” trade among partners to dilute barriers that stifles economic growth, i.e, tariffs and corporate restrictions.

    Japan voiced its interest in the TPP in early March 2013 to improve its trade in Asia especially after China advanced its position as the second largest economy–one Japan once held. The agreement would give Japanese corporations larger access to different markets; an overall positive outcome to minimize China’s growth within Asia as the  largest exporter. Concerns have grown among anti-globalization, environmental, and consumer-labor groups that the trade pact would stiffen nation business growth; in other words,Japan would become dependent on foreign companies similar to Mexico during its NAFTA treaty with the U.S and Canada.

    The Citizens Trade Campaign, a social and environmental trade policy group, pointed out that the TPP special provisions for corporations are “a wishlist of the 1%…[that] of the 26 chapters under negotiations, only a few have to do directly with trade….new rights and privileges [are enshrined] for major corporations while weakening the power of the nation states to oppose them.”  More concerning is that a larger majority of  information on the TPP meetings stem from Wikileaks and the Citizens’ Trade Campaign leaks. For instance, Intellectual Property Watch reported that $25,000 dollars were raised for Wikileaks to collect and publish drafted text from current TPP agreements because most has been redacted from the public domain and shared chiefly with industries. The shrewd secrecy in these negotiations concern Japanese as the chief majority of proposals  involve fields in government procurement, competition policy, labor standards, intellectual property, financial service, investment, telecommunications and environmental standards.

    One goal of the TPP is to eliminate tariffs and some of those involve what are labeled “sacred precincts.” Japanese tariffs cover about 9,018 specific items, of which the “sacred” categories of rice, wheat, beef and pork, dairy products and sugar account for 586. If current tariffs on all those items were maintained, according to The Mainichi, Japan would still eliminate tariffs on 93.5 percent of trade goods in the TPP zone. It is widely believed, however, that TPP negotiations are shooting for tariff elimination on more than 95 percent of items.Farmers in Japan have been protesting the TPP agenda for a while now. The Liberal Democratic Party, however, has vowed that it would seek to maintain tariffs on vital “national trade goods” including rice, wheat and barley. It was a clear move meant to reduce worries among voters that food safety would be jeopardized for trading consensus. Even if, the Mainichi notes, tariff protections are maintained for certain agricultural products and dropped for processed items, there is still a real possibility that domestic industries would take a hit under the TPP.

    Japan has fared well under Shinzo Abe’s leadership since 2012 winning its bid for the 2020 summer Olympics, raising exports, and taking a modest step out of recession. Consumer spending rose 0.9% and public sector infrastructure spending, part of Japan’s stimulus package, rose 0.8%, which is all good news for the country. Japan, however, faces  a wave of declining prices; a good thing for the average Joes who can now buy more with the same amount of money. For companies, however, if deflation persists for too long then their profits decline; thus, setting into motion a slew of policies that are meant to offset this scenario that involve cutting labor, closing manufacturing facilities, and reducing employee wages. For Shinzo Abe, TPP’s allure is the possibility that it could open new markets for the country in locations where it does not have strong footing. Nonetheless, he risks letting outsiders dominate Japan if he acquiesces to any compromises drafted by other nations such as the U.S; as to how Abe will handle the ramifications of the agreements is unknown. One thing is certain, Japan has much to determine before it can safely procure its citizens that Japanese  businesses, foods, and jobs will not be negatively affected. In the meantime, GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) indicates the Japanese economy may see some advances against deflation fairly soon–continuing a string of welcomed reports.

Japan possibly appointing deputy foreign minister as chief TPP negotiator

The government is arranging to appoint Koji Tsuruoka, deputy foreign minister in charge of economic affairs, as Japan’s chief negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks, government sources said Wednesday.

The government plans to hold the first ministerial meeting on the TPP possibly on Friday, bringing together Akira Amari, minister in charge of negotiations on the regional free trade arrangement, and other members concerned, they said.

Tsuruoka, who became deputy foreign minister last September after serving as head of the ministry’s Foreign Policy Bureau and minister at the Japanese Embassy in Indonesia, will head a team of Japanese TPP negotiators.

LDP to support Abe on TPP talks

Liberal Democratic Party policy chief Sanae Takaichi said Sunday that if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decides to join the talks on the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, he will have his party’s backing because Japan still has the option of skipping the free-trade pact.

“It is possible that Japan will take part in the talks, while aiming to protect national interests, and drop out of them if Japan does not meet the requirements,” she said on a Fuji Television program. “It is for the Cabinet to decide.”

As policy chief, Takaichi is expected to draw flak for endorsing Japan’s participation because many in the party are opposed to the TPP and feel it threatens the nation’s well-protected farm industry, which traditionally backs the LDP.

Read the rest of the story: LDP will support Abe on TPP talks: Takaichi.

2,500 U.S. Marines to be based in Australia – Asia-Pacific US Military Presence and TPP Angers China

The tentative trade agreement was a topic over the weekend in Honolulu, where Mr. Obama hosted the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and it will be discussed again later this week when he becomes the first American president to participate in the East Asia Summit, on the Indonesian island of Bali.

For China, the week’s developments could suggest both an economic and a military encirclement. Top leaders did not immediately comment on Mr. Obama’s speech, but Mr. Liu, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, emphasized that it was the United States, not China, seeking to use military power to influence events in Asia.

Read the rest of the story: Obama Says U.S. to Base 2,500 Marines in Australia.

Japan Buys 800,000 Tons of Corn From Ukraineas Cheaper U.S. Alternative – Bloomberg

Japan, the world’s largest corn importer, bought about 800,000 metric tons of the grain from Ukraine as a cheaper alternative to U.S. supply after the European nation removed a tax on exports last month.The purchase, made by five Japanese trading companies, was for shipments in November to March at about $20 a ton cheaper than U.S. corn, Nobuyuki Chino, president of Continental Rice Corp. in Tokyo, said in an interview today.

Read the rest of the story: Japan Buys 800,000 Tons of Corn From Ukraine as Cheaper U.S. Alternative.

APEC: President Obama And Prime Minister Noda Of Japan

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I just want to welcome Prime Minister Noda to Hawaii, to the United States, for this APEC meeting. I had the opportunity to have my first extensive discussions with the Prime Minister recently, and I have been extremely impressed already with the boldness of his vision. And we confirmed, once again, the importance for both of our countries — the alliance between the United States and Japan is the cornerstone of our relationship but also for security in the Asia-Pacific region for a very long time and I’m confident that working together we can continue to build on that relationship in the areas of commerce, the areas of security, in not only the Asia-Pacific region but around the world.

And Prime Minister Noda, welcome to Honolulu, where I’m sure that we’ll have another round of productive discussions. And I want to thank you and the people of Japan for your friendship. We continue also, by the way, to be concerned about the rebuilding process in the wake of the terrible earthquake and tsunami. And I want to assure you that the American people continue to stand beside you and ready to help in any way they can.

Read the rest of the story: Remarks By President Obama And Prime Minister Noda Of Japan.

IMF chief welcomes Japan to trade talks

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.

Read the rest of the story: IMF chief welcomes Japan to trade talks.

Japan Joining Talks on Trans-Pacific Partnership, Noda Says

In a contentious move that could make or break his government, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Friday that Japan would join talks toward an ambitious pan-Pacific free trade pact. The accord would potentially open up new markets for Japanese exporters but enrage the nation’s powerful farmers, who say their livelihoods would be wiped out.

Mr. Noda is set to declare Japan’s intent at the Asia-Pacific economic summit meeting in Hawaii this weekend, where President Obama will promote the far-reaching Trans-Pacific Partnership regional trade agreement, which aims to cut import tariffs to zero. Nine governments, including those of Australia and Singapore, are involved in the discussions.

Read the rest of the story: Japan Joining Talks on Trans-Pacific Partnership, Noda Says.

Japan pulls pin on Trans-Pacific Partnership news as Noda cancels press conference

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.

Senator Levin: Japan a U.S. job killer – TPP

Sen. Carl Levin urged President Barack Obama to keep Japan from participating in nine-party free trade talks, saying its policies amount to "a U.S. job killer."

As early as Thursday in Tokyo, the Japanese government will announce whether it wants to participate in Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement negotiations with the United States.

The Detroit Democrat said in a strongly worded letter that Japan must first "reverse decades of protecting its home auto market," and he urged Obama to "clearly oppose any effort by Japan to join the TPP at this time."

Japan, the world’s third-biggest economy, also has the world’s third-largest auto market.

Read the rest of the story: Levin: Japan a job killer.