February 2, 2015


Japan plans tariff cuts on US pork, beef imports



Japan, in an apparent concession, proposes to drastically cut its high import tariffs on US pork and beef over a 10-year period in talks with the US prior to a ministerial meeting on a 12-nation Asia-Pacific free trade deal planned in March, Japanese media reports said.


According to Kyodo News, Japan was willing to incrementally cut its tariff of ¥482 (about US$4) per kilogram for lower-priced pork from the US to just ¥50 (42 cents) over 10 years under the Trans-Pacific Partnership., which also includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Peru and Vietnam.


To prevent a possible surge in imports, the tariff is being proposed to be raised to ¥100 (85 cents) per kilogram for imports exceeding the quota, according to unidentified sources cited by Kyodo.


The US is, however, expected to pressure Japan into increasing the low-tariff quota during talks between the two countries in Washington this week.


The head of the US National Pork Producers Council, Howard Hill, had earlier admitted that talks on pork market access between the US and Japan had made "significant progress". 


With regards to beef imports, the Nikkei newspaper said an agreement was being worked out to cut Japan's 38.5% tariff to 10% over a 10-year period.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was re-elected to the position in September 2012, had vowed to protect the beef and pork farm markets under the TPP.


Last week, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was quoted as saying bilateral differences were narrowing, while US Trade Representative Michael Froman said a TPP deal could be reached in a "small number of months."

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