BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Some of the countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations are proposing phaseout periods of over 10 years for certain tariffs, negotiation sources said Sunday.
Such proposals could influence Japan’s stance as it seeks to keep tariffs in place on key farm products.
While the liberalization concept of the TPP is aimed at eliminating all tariffs in principle, the length of the phaseout periods and exceptions will depend on the negotiations.
The 19th round of the talks kicked off Aug. 22 in Brunei and will end on Friday. The 12 countries involved are currently negotiating market access for goods subject to tariffs.
Japan, which just joined the talks in July, wants to retain levies on rice, wheat, beef, pork, dairy products and sugar, fearing that an influx of cheap imports under the TPP could devastate its highly protected farn sector.
But some even within the government believe that retaining tariffs on all items will be difficult because the TPP members are trying to achieve a high level of trade liberalization and conclude a deal by the end of the year.
Japan held preparatory talks with the United States on joining the TPP negotiations, and the two agreed that the United States would eliminate tariffs on Japanese automobiles and trucks under a phaseout period longer than one agreed to under the U.S.-South Korean free trade agreement.
The U.S.-South Korea FTA states that tariffs on automobiles will be eliminated in five years after the agreement enters into force, while those on trucks will be eliminated in 10 years.
Washington is pursuing a high level of trade and investment liberalization in the TPP negotiations, while seeking to minimize the impact on U.S. industry.
Since the agreement between the U.S. and Japan will be reflected in the TPP talks, the phaseout period for U.S. tariffs on Japanese trucks is expected to exceed 10 years.