FTA to let Aussie tuna, orange levies drop in stages

Kyodo

Japan will abolish tariffs on southern bluefin tuna from Australia in stages over a decade once their bilateral free trade agreement takes effect, the farm ministry said Friday.

Under the FTA, Japan will also abolish tariffs on Australian oranges from June to September in stages over 10 years, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said.

While Japan has so far reached FTAs with 12 countries and one region, Japan decided to abolish tariffs on southern bluefin for the first time in a recent FTA agreement with Australia.

Japan imposes tariffs of 3.5 percent on imported southern bluefin, and 16 percent on oranges imported from June to September. It will maintain the current tariff rates on oranges imported during the January-May and October-December periods to curb the impact on Japanese orange farmers.

Japan imported 9,000 tons of southern bluefin tuna in 2012, nearly 80 percent of which came from Australia, which also accounts for about 20 percent of Japan’s orange imports.

As catches of southern bluefin are set by an international pact, Japan’s tuna imports are not expected to jump even after the tariff is abolished, according to the ministry.