Japan, U.S. close to reaching agreement on TPP beef, pork safeguards

Kyodo

Japan and the United States are in the final stage of talks on criteria for invoking safeguard measures to limit imports of U.S. beef and pork as part of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, negotiation sources said Wednesday.

Presuming a final agreement is reached, the two countries are planning to put safeguard measures for beef in motion 15 years after the resulting trade accord takes effect, if the total amount of beef imports exceeds around 739,000 tons, and for low-priced pork in 10 years if total imports exceed 150,000 tons, the sources said.

In bilateral negotiations with Washington for the 12-country TPP, Tokyo has called for safeguard measures to protect domestic farmers, as it is set to expand imports of U.S. beef and pork, one of Japan’s politically sensitive agricultural product categories.

Japan-U.S. differences over the liberalization of trade in agricultural products and the introduction of safeguard measures have been one of the thorniest issues in the TPP negotiations.

Trade chiefs from the two countries met Tuesday on the sidelines of a four-day ministerial meeting being held on the Hawaiian island of Maui through Friday.

In response to strong calls from the United States to import more of the products, Japan would cut its 38.5 percent tariffs on beef in stages to 9 percent over 15 years, once an agreement takes effect.

Japan would also be expected to reduce its tariffs on low-priced pork from the current ¥482 ($3.9) per kilogram to ¥125 once the TPP enters into force. The rate would be further lowered to ¥70 in five years and ¥50 in 10 years.

Safeguard measures for pork would not be set for the first four years but would be invoked from the next year if imports exceed 90,000 tons. After 10 years, the threshold will be set at 150,000 tons, the sources said.

Japan and the United States together account for around 80 percent of gross domestic product in the TPP framework. The other 10 members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.