The Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry
The success of measures to revitalize the Japanese economy taken by the second Abe administration is continuing to drive a steady recovery, and an end to deflation is now in sight. With a view to implementing the growth strategy that forms the "third arrow" of Abenomics, the Japanese business community places great importance on concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as an urgent task for promoting economic partnerships, which are a crucial element of the strategy. We regard TPP as the most promising route to creating a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) and an essential agreement for harnessing the dynamism of the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region and putting the Japanese economy back on the path of sustainable growth. The business community, including small and medium enterprises, has high hopes that the TPP will not only expand access to markets for goods and services, but also enhance competitiveness by making trade and investment rules suited to the 21st century, which will lead to the formation of global rules.
Since Prime Minister Abe took the decisive step to join the TPP negotiations in July 2013, Japan has constructively contributed to the realization of a comprehensive next-generation agreement, especially in the area of rule-making. The business community highly appreciates the Prime Minister's leadership and the efforts of the government negotiators involved.
However, although negotiations were accelerated at the TPP ministerial meeting held in Singapore last December in the aim of concluding negotiations by year-end, and progress was made in many fields, final agreement was not reached. It became clear that each participating country had its own domestic areas of sensitivity, and that conflicting priorities were hindering agreement. The inevitable outcome of negotiations over such points of conflict is that we have reached the stage where heads of state and ministers need to take political decisions, and the next ministerial meeting will be absolutely crucial. Each country needs to adopt a comprehensive, long-term perspective and cooperate to conclude an ambitious, high-level agreement.
In order to harmonize the entire negotiating process, including the area of rule-making, Japan needs to show a level of ambition acceptable to other participants regarding access to markets for goods. To this end, as well as focusing on core sectors that should be protected, Japan needs to respond flexibly and make use of tools including safeguards and phased tariff reduction or elimination. It is also vital to make steady progress on measures devised by the government to boost agricultural competiveness. To move the negotiations forward, Japan and the United States must first be more flexible and reach agreement in bilateral talks. Prime Minister Abe took the bold decision to join the TPP negotiations, and we call upon him to once again take decisive action to open up a path to concluding them.