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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 October 10 - 16  > Abe gov't refers to new trade talks with US as TAG, not FTA
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2018 October 10 - 16 TOP3 [ECONOMY]

Abe gov't refers to new trade talks with US as TAG, not FTA

October 12 & Akahata Sunday edition Octo
The Japanese government led by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has agreed upon the start of negotiations on a new trade accord with the U.S. Trump administration, according to a joint statement released on September 26. The Abe government refers to the new pact as TAG.

For most Japanese, the term TAG is completely new.

The joint statement said, "The United States and Japan will enter into negotiations for a Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement on goods, as well as on other key areas including services." In Japan, the "g" of the "on goods" has become uppercased, i.e., to make it into a proper noun, "the Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement on Goods (TAG)".

This has given many Japanese people the impression that what the two governments agreed upon is not the launch of negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) but on something else which deals with only goods.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty said in a Sankei Shimbun interview dated October 3, "We haven't used the term TAG."

PM Abe has been explaining in the Diet that his talks with President Trump "are not for a Japan-U.S. FTA or anything like preliminary talks on launching Japan-U.S. FTA negotiations". Many Japanese people fear that when it comes to an FTA with the U.S., Japan will most likely be dragged into negotiations for limitless trade liberalization and Japan will be forced to lift its tariffs on agricultural products.

In fact, the U.S. side regards the talks as FTA talks and has been stepping up its pressure on Japan to further open its markets, for example, for U.S. farm products by lowering tariffs on them. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on October 4 said, "We will soon begin negotiating a historic bilateral free trade agreement with Japan," revealing that the new trade negotiations have a bilateral FTA in mind. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on the same day also said, "We would expect to have an equal or better deal than Japan gave the European Union regarding agriculture," adding, "Our goal would be essentially TPP-plus regarding Japan."

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo in Akahata on October 12 condemned PM Abe by saying, "What he agreed to in the Japan-U.S. summit meeting is unquestionably to hold talks for an FTA." Shii said, "It is highly possible that the Trump administration will threaten Japan with high automobile tariffs and press Japan to reduce tariffs on American farm products. Without a doubt, PM Abe is abandoning Japan's food and economic sovereignty."

Past related articles:
> Shii criticizes latest Abe-Trump meeting for threatening Japan’s economic sovereignty [September 28, 2018]
> 1st round of FFR trade talks ends, Japan should rebuff unfair demands from US [August 14, 2018]
> Japan signs EPA with EU amid farmers’ opposition [July 18, 2018]
> JCP Inoue: Ratification of TPP11 will lead to further trade pressure from US June 13, 2018]
> Abe accepts Trump’s demand for trade talks leading to FTA [April 20, 2018]
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