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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 July 5 - 11  > Gov’t without divulging EPA details to public reaches agreement with EU
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2017 July 5 - 11 [ECONOMY]

Gov’t without divulging EPA details to public reaches agreement with EU

July 7, 2017
Prime Minister Abe Shinzo on July 6 officially announced that Japan had reached a “broad agreement” on an Economic Partnership Agreement in ministerial talks with the EU.

The Abe government, in order to take in the overseas growth, places regional economic partnerships, including the TPP and the Japan-EU EPA, as pillars of Japan’s growth strategy. As of 2012, the percentage of trade with countries with which Japan has FTAs or EPAs is 18.9%. The government seeks to increase this ratio to the country’s total trade to 70% by 2018.

UN special rapporteurs and many other human rights experts, however, repeatedly warn that FTAs or EPAs place priority on benefiting multinationals alone, and that these accords will most likely accelerate economic disparities and poverty and will adversely affect human rights. In addition, an increasing number of nations in the world are looking to food sovereignty by independently deciding on food production and supply in light of their circumstances. The Japanese Communist Party has also been calling for the need to set rules on investment and trade, unlike that of past trade agreements which resulted in widening disparities and increased poverty, and to respect each nation’s economic sovereignty based on the principle of equality and mutual benefit.

In Japan-EU EPA negotiations, Japan’s counterparts are European states which have a strong advantage in exports of farm products. The lifting or reduction of tariffs on products like cheese, pork, and wine and the setting of lower-tariff imports will significantly affect the domestic agricultural sector. This is why a majority of farmers in Japan have been anxious about how the talks proceed.

The Abe regime, despite its awareness of the possible negative impact mainly on the domestic farm industry, keeps withholding almost all information from the public about what is discussed in EPA negotiations and reached in haste a “broad agreement” recently. The government should stop rushing headlong into the Japan-EU EPA and should disclose all details on EPA talks.

Past related article:
>Farmers urge the gov’t not to reach basic agreement with EU on EPA [July 4, 2017]
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