Government crafting tariff cut offers for Brunei TPP round

Kyodo

The government told industry groups Monday that it is drafting proposals on lowering or eliminating tariffs for the Brunei round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations.

A total of 194 business, agriculture and other lobbying groups received a briefing from government officials on the free trade talks, which Japan joined last month, the government said.

The main focus of the session, which closed to the press, was whether the TPP countries would be able to reach a deal this year, and whether the Brunei talks will be the last round before the conclusion is announced, a government official said.

The Brunei round kicks off on Aug. 22.

The government said the TPP countries want to seal the deal by the end of the year, but that there could be an additional round before October, depending on the outcome of the upcoming 19th round in Brunei, the official said.

The Brunei talks, which are scheduled to end on Aug. 30, will constitute Japan’s first full round. Tokyo made its TPP debut on July 23 toward the end of the 18th round in Malaysia.

Separately in Tokyo, a federation of fisheries cooperatives requested that the government keep Japan’s fishing subsidies out of the TPP negotiations.

JF Zengyoren submitted a statement to TPP minister Akira Amari and farm minister Yoshimasa Hayashi that said cutting the subsidy programs could diminish fishermen’s ability to compete against countries that aren’t part of the multilateral talks.

The United States has proposed a basic ban on fishing subsidies, and the TPP countries have been discussing the issue in its working group on environmental issues.