Tokyo, Dec. 12 (Jiji Press)–Former Japanese government trade negotiators say they recognize benefits of allowing China to enter into negotiations to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.
The former negotiators are Ichiro Araki, now professor at Yokohama National University, and Toshiya Tsugami, visiting researcher at the Japan Institute for Overseas Investment.
In separate interviews with Jiji Press, they talked about how Japan should respond to China’s application to join the TPP deal, based on their experiences in international negotiations that resulted in China’s entry into the World Trade Organization 20 years ago.
Araki’s view is that Japan should use TPP negotiations to urge China to reform its economic systems because benefits of an economic partnership pact increase as the number of its members rises.
China’s participation in the WTO “pushed down tariffs, making it easier (for Japan) to export,” Araki said. “Last year, China was the biggest export destination for Japan.”
Regarding unabated criticism of China’s preferential treatment of state enterprises, Araki said that the WTO’s rules do not cover the problem appropriately while the TPP deal has strict rules on state enterprises.
It is a good idea to apply tough TPP rules to areas where the WTO rules are not sufficient, he added.
Tsugami said that “Japan has benefited most” from China’s entry into the WTO, which helped boost the Chinese economy.
When negotiations on the WTO entry accelerated around 1994, Japan was not actively supporting China’s participation, but its attitude changed when Ryutaro Hashimoto became prime minister in 1996 and stressed the importance of including China in the WTO, according to Tsugami.
“Japan should welcome China’s (TPP) application while saying that (negotiations will start) also with Taiwan,” Tsugami said.
“Japan is the only one saying that there is an option of rejecting China because the start of negotiations requires unanimous approval” of the existing TPP members, he said. “Japan would be isolated, and things would progress without Japan.”