Japan, US Lead Economic Rule-Making Under TPP: Japan PM

November 06,2015
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Trade ministers from a dozen Pacific nations in Trans-Pacific Partnership Ministers meeting post in TPP Ministers "Family Photo" in Atlanta, Georgia. (Reuters/USTR Press Office/Handout)

(AFP)--Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday hailed a huge Pacific Rim free-trade deal, saying it showcased a bid by Japan and the United States to set rules for the global economy.

His comments come a day after the long-secret text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was made public.

The massive document, posted online by several governments, offered the first detailed look at the world's biggest free trade area, which aims to break down barriers to commerce and investment between a dozen countries comprising about 40 percent of the global economy.

The US and Japan are the proposed bloc's two biggest economies.

"Rules should not be something that are imposed on you -- you make them," Abe told an economic forum in Tokyo.

"The TPP is the structure where Japan and the US can lead in economic rule-making."

Abe also said he would "enthusiastically welcome" South Korea and Indonesia, which have signalled interest in joining, into the zone, so long as they "accept the rules" that Tokyo helped write.

The pact, agreed a month ago, aims to break down trade and investment barriers among participating nations Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

The deal now awaits legislative approvals in each one of the dozen members -- a potentially contentious and lengthy process.

Abe and many Japanese experts have long supported the TPP, which should give greater foreign market access for "Japan Inc."

But politically connected farm lobbies and some consumer groups have passionately opposed the zone, fearing it would destroy Japan's agriculture by opening a floodgate for cheap foreign imports and altering Japan's rules for consumer protection.

Abe stressed that the TPP will bring "transparent and fair rules" of trade among the participating economies.

"The TPP truly constitutes a grand plan for the long-term future of our nation," he said.

On the domestic front, Abe suggested that he might compile an extra budget "if necessary" to fund social and economic programmes to be drafted by the end of this month.

Abe also touched on what he described as "increasing concerns" over China's economic slowdown.

"I would like the Chinese government to steadily implement structural reforms while ensuring transparency," Abe said of Japan's giant neighbour and world's second-largest economy.

"China's peaceful development is an opportunity for Japan and is necessary for growth of the global economy," he added.

Bilateral tensions over a maritime territorial dispute, clashing interpretations of World War II-era history and Abe's visit to a controversial Tokyo war shrine have hamstrung ties.

But Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping have held two formal meetings since last year amid an effort to improve icy relations.