Japan’s prime minister said today his country will join negotiations to become part of a proposed regional free trade zone called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk applauded the announcement, saying the commitment by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will provide a major boost for the trade initiative.
"In close consultation with Congress and our domestic stakeholders, we look forward to engaging with the Japanese in these discussions," Kirk said in a prepared statement.
"To join the negotiations, Japan must be prepared to meet the TPP’s high standards for liberalizing trade and to address specific issues of concern to the United States regarding barriers to agriculture, services, and manufacturing trade, including non-tariff measures."
Although the TPP negotiations are not officially part of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, trade ministers attending the event have been meeting o n the sidelines to discuss the proposed trade deal.
Japan is the 10th country to take part in the TPP negotiations, joining the United States, Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore.