Japan ratifies TPP amid fading chances of US ratification

| Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:20 IST

Tokyo [Japan], Nov. 10 (ANI): Japan's lower house of parliament on Thursday voted to ratify the contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and passed a related bill, amid diminished chances that the pact, spearheaded by the United States, will be ratified by the U.S. when the Donald Trump administration comes to power. The vote was held in a special plenary session convened Thursday and the trade agreement and related legislation was supported by the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito junior ally, as well as the opposition Nippon Ishin Japan Innovation Party, reports Xinhua. However, the main opposition Democratic Party, Liberal Party and Social Democratic Party boycotted the vote, while the Japanese Communist Party voted against the legislation. The ruling camp was, however, able to pass the TPP bills, even in the face of staunch opposition, owing to its majority in the parliament's lower house. But opposition was rife due to what opposition lawmakers described as "inappropriate timing" in light of the victory of Trump, who is opposed to the TPP. Observers here noted that both houses of Congress in the U.S. remain under Republican control following the election. While Japan is rushing to be the first signatory to the treaty, Thursday's approval will now stand for 30 days, regardless of the upper house's vote on the matter. However, an upper house steering committee is likely to arrange a special plenary session for Friday. Meanwhile, sources close to the matter said Thursday that the ruling camp will almost certainly think about extending the current Diet session, which is set to end on Nov. 30. Other potential signatories are also conceding the fact that the pact may not come to fruition, with local media here quoting the Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key as saying that the pact's chances of ratification during the "lame duck" period was "if not zero, very close to zero." The TPP involves Japan, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. Leading economists here have suggested that the pact is in fact more about "managed trade" rather than "free trade," and have questioned the lack of transparency of the overall process as the details of the agreement are supposed to be released prior to them being sent for ratification. Experts have claimed that if ratified, it would potentially account for 40 percent of global gross domestic product and more than 30 percent of global trade, with leading economists stating that combined growth would be worth in excess of 28 trillion U.S. dollars. (ANI)
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