Japan’s busy year on trade deals seen shaking up the economy

5 November, 2018 12:00 AM printer

TOKYO: The 11-member reincarnation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, known as the CPTPP, moved one step closer to implementation last week in a sign that — despite a spate of recent international trade disputes — such deals are very much alive in Asia.

The deal caps off an already busy year for Japanese trade negotiators who also signed a large economic partnership agreement with the European Union, moved forward with bilateral trade negotiations with the U.S. and launched early discussions about expanding the CPTPP beyond its original members, report agencies.

And yet Tokyo still appears keen to squeeze more out of 2018, striking an increasingly hopeful tone that a tentative agreement can be reached before year’s end on another massive trade deal known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

How exactly will these trade deals affect Japan? When will consumers begin to notice changes?

Here is a recap of this year’s developments to date on trade and the economic ramifications of the deals, which are likely to impact everything from foreign policy to the Japanese dinner plate.

Although the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), also referred to as TPP-11, was signed by its negotiating members in March 2018, over half of the countries were required to ratify the deal domestically for it to move forward.

Following Mexico, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand and Canada, Australia became the sixth country Wednesday to ratify the deal, bringing it one step closer to final implementation.

But Japanese consumers and importers will have to wait a little while longer before they start to see lower prices on imports, because CPTPP doesn’t go into force until 60 days after a majority of countries have ratified the agreement.

As each country has its own process to confirm trade deals and differing legislation schedules, members have ratified the deal according to their own timelines.

Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam have yet to ratify the accord.

Thailand, Indonesia, Columbia, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines and Britain have all expressed interest in joining the deal.