Aussie beef industry hails EPA with Japan

JIJI, Kyodo

The Australian beef industry welcomed Tuesday a broad accord between Japan and Australia to conclude a bilateral economic partnership agreement (EPA) for free trade.

“Over the next 20 years, sales of Australian beef to Japan are expected to rise by 5.5 billion (Australian) dollars (¥525 billion)” as a result of the envisioned EPA, Meat & Livestock Australia said in Sydney.

Japan is the biggest export destination for Australian beef. In 2013, Japan accounted for 26 percent of overall Australian beef exports.

Australia expects that lower tariffs in Japan will boost the competitiveness of Australian beef over U.S. produce.

National Farmers’ Federation President Brent Finlay indicated disappointment that rice and other products were excluded from the planned bilateral EPA.

“We recognize the historical significance of the agreement. However, we are disappointed with the overall outcomes for agriculture, with a number of sectors facing marginal improvements or limited commercial gains,” Finlay said in a statement.

Japanese business leaders also welcomed the free trade pact, expecting the deal to push forward the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks.

“It is a major decision politically and I feel it will push forward the TPP negotiations,” Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of Keidanren, the nation’s most powerful business lobby representing its largest companies, said in Tokyo on Monday.

Akio Mimura, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, shared that view.

“I am confident that this will lead to an early conclusion of the TPP talks,” Mimura said in a statement.