November 21, 2003
Japan, Mexico Unlikely To Sign Free Trade Agreement This Year Due To Dispute Over Pork
With Japan and Mexico still far apart over tariffs on orange juice and pork, the two nations are unlikely to meet their goal of signing a free trade agreement by the end of the year, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported Friday.
Some government officials are already discussing the possibility of extending the signing deadline to next March. The two nations are scheduled to hold working-level talks next week, but pessimism is prevailing in both governments.
Many ruling coalition lawmakers are critical of an offer made at an October minister-level meeting to set a low-tariff import allowance for pork.
"I cannot explain this to farmers in my constituency," said a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker at a Thursday meeting among party members with strong ties to the agricultural industry.
But Mexico made even tougher demands at a vice-minister-level meeting earlier this month, seeking tariff-free import quotas for orange juice and pork.
Mexico also seems to be growing disappointed with what it sees as Japan's reluctance to compromise. A Mexican negotiator has reportedly told his Japanese counterpart that signing an agreement within the year would be difficult, and that allowing another six months would be realistic.