Opposition mounts to Japan joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership

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***Opposition both domestic and foreign has steadily mounted since Japan declared its intent to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on March 13, 2013, reaching a fever pitch last week at an event hosted in Washington, D.C.

At the event, US labour unions clashed with business groups over the likely economic effects of Japan joining the TPP.  The pact, if established, would be the world’s largest free-trade agreement. The TPP is currently being negotiated between the US, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and soon, most likely, Japan.

Last week in D.C., however, labour unions warned of the dire consequences of such action. The AFL-CIO, America’s largest labour union, joined with the United Auto Workers, the US powerful automobile union, to voice their shared concern that Japan joining the TPP would lead to a significant worsening of the US-Japan automotive trade deficit, and result in the loss of thousands of additional auto-industry jobs in the US.

Another concern in the US is that the TPP would undermine the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Clyde Prestowitz, chief trade negotiator under former US President Ronald Reagan, has warned that the TPP would lead to a net loss of 200,000 jobs in the US and a million jobs in Central American and Caribbean countries as well as Mexico that have a similar trade agreement with the US.  The reason for this is that textile production would likely move to Vietnam, where costs are significantly lower.

US business groups, on the other hand, focused on the potentially huge new opportunities for US exports, especially in the agricultural, industrial, and service markets, and predicted that these opportunities would translate into a surge of high-paying jobs in the US.

In Japan, the most intense opposition to the TPP is in Hokkaido, the country’s second largest island, which has a booming agricultural sector. The Hokkaido government recently announced that the TPP would cause Hokkaido’s agricultural production to drop by around $4 billion and the number of farms on the island to shrink by 50 per cent.  The government believes that rice farms would be hit especially hard, with as many as 14,000 rice farmers losing their jobs.

Some Japanese farmers, however, see a benefit to the TPP in the opportunity that they could more easily sell top-quality Japanese agricultural products abroad. Japanese automobile and other manufactures that are competitive to those produced in the US would, of course, also stand to gain substantially.

The exact contours of the new world wrought by the TPP are not yet clear. All that can be said with certainty at this point is that the job market in all countries affected would significantly change.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Opposition both domestic and foreign has steadily mounted since Japan declared its intent to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on March 13, 2013, reaching a fever pitch last week at an event hosted in Washington, D.C.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

***Opposition both domestic and foreign has steadily mounted since Japan declared its intent to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on March 13, 2013, reaching a fever pitch last week at an event hosted in Washington, D.C.

At the event, US labour unions clashed with business groups over the likely economic effects of Japan joining the TPP.  The pact, if established, would be the world’s largest free-trade agreement. The TPP is currently being negotiated between the US, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and soon, most likely, Japan.

Last week in D.C., however, labour unions warned of the dire consequences of such action. The AFL-CIO, America’s largest labour union, joined with the United Auto Workers, the US powerful automobile union, to voice their shared concern that Japan joining the TPP would lead to a significant worsening of the US-Japan automotive trade deficit, and result in the loss of thousands of additional auto-industry jobs in the US.

Another concern in the US is that the TPP would undermine the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Clyde Prestowitz, chief trade negotiator under former US President Ronald Reagan, has warned that the TPP would lead to a net loss of 200,000 jobs in the US and a million jobs in Central American and Caribbean countries as well as Mexico that have a similar trade agreement with the US.  The reason for this is that textile production would likely move to Vietnam, where costs are significantly lower.

US business groups, on the other hand, focused on the potentially huge new opportunities for US exports, especially in the agricultural, industrial, and service markets, and predicted that these opportunities would translate into a surge of high-paying jobs in the US.

In Japan, the most intense opposition to the TPP is in Hokkaido, the country’s second largest island, which has a booming agricultural sector. The Hokkaido government recently announced that the TPP would cause Hokkaido’s agricultural production to drop by around $4 billion and the number of farms on the island to shrink by 50 per cent.  The government believes that rice farms would be hit especially hard, with as many as 14,000 rice farmers losing their jobs.

Some Japanese farmers, however, see a benefit to the TPP in the opportunity that they could more easily sell top-quality Japanese agricultural products abroad. Japanese automobile and other manufactures that are competitive to those produced in the US would, of course, also stand to gain substantially.

The exact contours of the new world wrought by the TPP are not yet clear. All that can be said with certainty at this point is that the job market in all countries affected would significantly change.

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