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Japan likely to join TPP talks despite worries on farm sector

(Xinhua)

13:19, November 10, 2011

TOKYO,Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- Japan is likely to announce joining negotiations for the Pacific free trade agreement to boost the country's stagnant economy, despite fears of a negative impact on the country's farm industry from the tariff-cutting pact.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is expected to announce his intention for Japan to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations during a press conference here on Thursday, before leaders of the Pacific Rim economies gathered in Hawaii for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on Oct.12-13.

But the issue has triggered hot debate among the public and lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan. Opponents urged the government to make a cautious decision regarding the country's vulnerable farm sector.

Noda stressed the need to promote high-level free trade agreements to boost its stagnant economy by taking advantage of the fast growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

He has also said he will seek to inject vitality into the agricultural sector, which currently suffers from the lack of successors, low profitability and increasing abandoned farmland.

The TPP negotiating countries are seeking to create a high- level free trade agreement that in principle will require members to cancel all tariffs. This would make it difficult for Japan to set exceptions for items such as rice and dairy products as it has done in past bilateral FTAs with other countries to protect Japan' s domestic agriculture industry.

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