New Opportunities for US Natural Gas Industry with Japan’s Entry to TPP

During his confirmation hearing, Secretary of Energy designate Moniz gave a strong endorsement for the export of natural gas, and just last week the US Trade Representative gave the go ahead for Japan’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The Trans-Pacific Partnership was one of the first Obama initiatives to strengthen trade between the US and the emerging economies of the Pacific. Although Japan and the US have a strong history of trade, Japan’s entry into the TPP will produce significant benefits for both nations. As National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon, notes in his April 14, oped in The Wall Street Journal, “A TPP that includes Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, would represent an annual trading relationship of $1.7 trillion and a strong regional constituency for shared economic values.”

Currently, as Japan’s nuclear energy program is stalled, its reliance on natural gas has increased dramatically – creating great export opportunities for the United States where the natural gas industry is booming. Japan is the world’s largest buyer of natural gas, with imported LNG coming from sources including Qatar, Russia, Australia and Indonesia — but not the US. The Trans-Pacific Partnership will allow Japan to diversify its sources of imported gas and correspondingly, will allow the US to use its vast reserves to become a world leader in LNG exports.

We are the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. Our reserves of unconventional gas are more than sufficient to meet our needs at competitive prices while creating thousands of new jobs and contributing to robust economic growth. All we have to do is take a look at the economic benefits that have flowed to states where shale gas is being produced to get a snap shot of the potential when the full potential of gas production and use, including export, is realized.
Some domestic companies are opposing natural gas exports in the mistaken belief that doing so will keep its price low which contributes to their self interest. Whatever benefit they derive will be short lived because continued increased in production is based on a growing market not a closed one.

The US has a great opportunity to advance the cause of free trade with the TPP and in doing so to strengthen our relations with one of our strongest allies, Japan.

In a global economy, the focal point in coming decades will be in the Pacific region. Our economic self interest and global security interests will be advanced by initiatives like the TPP and allowing as many nations as practical to participate; to start, Japan needs to be welcomed in the July round of TPP negotiations. There are no reasons why Japan should not become part of TPP and an abundant number why they should. The US can take advantage of opportunities to become one of the world’s leaders in the global market for natural gas through the participation of Japan in this unprecedented trade pact.

This article appeared on the FuelFix weblog at

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