Japan formally announced its desire to join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership ("TPP") free trade agreement on March 15, 2013. After conducting bilateral negotiations with Japan, all eleven TPP countries formally invited Japan to join the TPP negotiations on April 20, 2013. Including Japan, TPP countries will account for nearly one-third of all global trade and approximately 40 percent of the world's GDP.
Although Japan's membership is expected to increase the prestige of the TPP, negotiations will not be easy. Japan is not expected to be able to participate in the next round of TPP negotiations that will be held in May due to the U.S. requirement that Congress be notified 90 days before Japan can participate in the trade talks. Representatives from other TPP countries have stated that concluded issues will not be reopened to accommodate Japan once it is able to join negotiations. Japan hopes to exempt certain agricultural products, such as rice, from the TPP negotiations, while the United States has asked Japan for concessions on automobiles and trucks.