Japan’s Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, has expressed his nation’s intention to begin consultations with Trans-Pacific Partnership countries towards joining the TPP negotiations. Ministers from the nine TPP countries met Friday in Honolulu, Hawaii. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk welcomed the move, saying – we look forward to engaging with the Japanese in these discussions. Kirk believes, – Japan’s interest in the TPP demonstrates the economic and strategic importance of this initiative to the region.

To join the negotiations, Japan must be prepared to meet the TPP’s high standards for liberalizing trade and to address specific issues of concern to the United States regarding barriers to agriculture, services, and manufacturing trade, including non-tariff measures. The National Pork Producers Council says – the U.S. pork industry strongly supports Japan’s entry into the TPP, and NPPC urges the United States and the other TPP countries to accede to Japan’s request.  NPPC President Doug Wolf, a pork producer from Lancaster, Wisconsin says – pork producers would gain tremendous market opportunities with Japan as part of the TPP. The U.S. pork industry last year exported nearly 4.8-billion dollars of pork, an amount that added about $56 to the price producers received for each hog marketed.