Japan has joined negotiations for the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement, following nearly 18 months of discussions with the US.
Japan joins 11 other countries currently discussing the trade agreement – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam, with talks about the agreement beginning in 2007.
Japan has been in negotiations with the US about entering TPP negotiations since November 2011.
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Japan’s inclusion in the agreement was announced from the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Trade Ministers' meeting, which is being held in Indonesia, with member TPP countries meeting to consider the addition of Japan.
"I look forward to Japan joining the negotiations and working with Australia and our TPP partners to conclude a comprehensive and ambitious regional free trade agreement," Australian federal Trade Minister Craig Emerson said in a statement.
The agreement aims to open up trade between member countries but details about it has been kept secret from public scrutiny, with only leaked drafts of some sections of the agreement brought to light.
Australia’s Trade Minister’s office recently confirmed to Computerworld Australia that Emerson has seen a draft of the agreement, but it was too early to discuss aspects of it.
Emerson said TPP countries would now account for nearly 40 per cent of global GDP with the addition of Japan and would help Australia achieve “global trade liberalisation”.
The 16th round of talks about the TPP were held in Singapore in March, with Disney reportedly using a stakeholders meeting for the TPP to call for extended copyright terms.
The next round of negotiations will be held in Lima, Peru, 15-25 May, with stakeholder events being held 19 May.
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