Washington hails Japan's participation in Trans-Pacific Partnership

SURABAYA, Indonesia (AFP) - Japan's participation in a massive Pacific trade agreement will create an enormous market for American exports and generate employment, a top United States trade official said on Sunday.

Acting US Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis lauded the unanimous decision for Japan's entry into the US-driven Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a day after Canada softened its resistance and gave the thumbs-up.

"The TPP membership was already robust, presenting economic opportunities for the United States and every member country, and the addition of Japan increases its significance and its potential across the board," he said in a statement.

"Japan's entry will offer a huge new market for American exports that can support more jobs at home," he added.

Mr Marantis praised the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) trade ministers' meeting in the Indonesian city of Surabaya as "a steady march forward" to deepen economic integration and improve opportunities in the region.

The two-day meeting, which ended on Sunday, came ahead of the Apec summit in October on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

"For the United States, we look forward to consulting with our Congress and stakeholders further as Japan prepares to join the talks, and to continuing the push for a TPP agreement this year," he said.

Canada was the only nation among the 11 members which was still opposed to Tokyo's participation, but its Trade Minister Ed Fast on Saturday said "having Japan at the table is going to add additional value to all of the TPP partners".

With the entry of Japan into the free-trade talks the pact would cover nearly 40 per cent of the global economy, making it the biggest free-trade agreement in the world.

The bloc is aimed creating a tariff-free zone with a market of around US$25 trillion (S$31 trillion) covering some 800 million people.

Japan joins Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam in TPP negotiations.