Japan to offer tariff reduction for U.S. beef in TPP talks

Kyodo

Japan is expected to offer reducing tariffs on beef imported from the United States in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks, according to highly placed sources.

The Abe administration has been reluctant to cut tariffs on key farm products, including beef and pork, but it decided to offer the concession under strong pressure from the U.S. to open up its agricultural sector.

The offer will probably be put on the table during bilateral working-level talks being held in Tokyo, the sources said Tuesday.

Imported beef is currently subject to a 38.5 percent tariff. The administration plans to propose lowering the figure to less than 30 percent, while it is also considering proposing a reduction in tariffs levied on low-priced pork from the U.S., which is currently subject to a high level of duties, they said.

The proposal to Washington on beef compares with Japan’s separate proposal to Australia to cut tariff on beef imports to around 30 percent in negotiations for a separate free trade agreement.

Japan hopes to obtain approval from the United States by offering more favorable treatment on U.S. beef than Australian beef.

Among goods categorized as five sensitive farm product groups, the Abe administration is seeking to retain tariffs on rice while increasing the amount of Japan’s imports from the U.S. Duties on sugar will likely be retained, the sources said.