Prime Minister Shinzo Abe again pledged Thursday to seek Japan’s national interests in international trade, despite the prospect of having to eliminate tariffs on some sensitive agricultural products in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks.
“I have not changed at all the government’s policy of pursuing the national interest” in the TPP talks, Abe said at a plenary session of the House of Councillors, adding, “The negotiations are now moving into full swing.”
The comments suggest Tokyo will keep asking for exceptions in the negotiations, which aim at eliminating all tariffs and other trade barriers among the 12 TPP members as an ultimate goal.
But it is highly likely Japanese negotiators will face pressure to make some concessions, particularly on agricultural products, which Abe earlier said he will protect as a “sanctuary” given fears among domestic farmers that a TPP accord would lead to an influx of cheaper imports.
The TPP members, also including the United States, Australia, Singapore and Mexico, confirmed earlier this month that they are on track to achieve a broad agreement by the end of the year. But they also said more work should be done to address differences among the negotiating members.
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