Motegi urges study on TPP’s true tariff goals

Kyodo

Before Japan can state its stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks, it must study whether the accord will truly require member states to fully eliminate tariffs, trade minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Tuesday.

“We have said that we cannot join negotiations if abolishing tariffs without exceptions was to become a precondition, but we have to examine whether this is really the basis (of the talks),” Motegi said, touching on the election campaign pledge made by Liberal Democratic Party in December before it returned to power.

The economy, trade and industry minister also told reporters he thinks talks would “not be viable” if members have to abolish tariffs on all products within 10 years, a principle pursued by the TPP negotiating economies.

Economic and fiscal policy minister Akira Amari told a separate press conference the government has no plan to sacrifice national interests to participate in the TPP, but there should be a way for each country to enjoy the benefits of trade liberalization.

Because the TPP is expected to be a high-level free-trade pact, Japan is expected to face difficulty in setting exceptions for sensitive items, particularly rice and dairy products, as it has done in past bilateral free-trade agreements with other countries.