Global moves towards freer trade got a boost with Japan showing its willingness to join the Asia-Pacific free trade talks. An inclusion of Japan in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum would create a free trade zone bigger than the 27-nation European Union.
Leaders of the 21 economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum meeting in Honolulu in Hawaii, will decide on the course of the grouping and the extend of economic integration within the grouping.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda had earlier announced Tokyo's willingness to join US-led talks to forge a Trans-Pacific Partnership among nine nations within the APEC.
While Mexico and Canada have also shown interest in joining the talks, they have not made any commitment so far.
Japan's move to join the grouping that also includes Australia would also help US efforts to limit China's influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said trade ministers' meeting this week in Hawaii has been productive. Kirk also welcomed Japan's interest in joining the APEC forum. He, however, was cautious on Japan agreeing to lift barriers in agriculture, services and manufacturing.