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KYODO

Japan is proposing to set a 70,000-ton tariff-free import quota for U.S. rice in bilateral talks for a Pacific free trade agreement, in return for maintaining a high tariff on the country’s staple food, negotiation sources said Saturday.

The proposed quota is lower than the 175,000 tons demanded by the U.S. ahead of a ministerial meeting starting Tuesday of all 12 countries involved in talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Greater access to Japan’s rice market and U.S. tariffs on automotive parts are the key remaining issues left to be resolved between Tokyo and Washington.

Japan currently imports 770,000 tons a year of rice tariff-free, or around 7 percent of the total consumed. Of that rice, a volume of 100,000 tons is bought for consumption as table rice and the remainder is designated to be used in food processing.

The nation proposes to set a 50,000-ton zero-tariff quota for imported U.S. rice, with the amount gradually increasing to 70,000 tons over a period of a decade or more, the sources said.

Japan will not necessarily buy the amount set by the quota, allowing the actual amount purchased to change each year depending on domestic rice demand, the sources said.

For Australia, which also demands increased access to the Japanese rice market, Tokyo plans to set a zero-tariff quota equivalent to 12 percent of that for the United States, the sources said. As a result, the total quota for zero-tariff rice imports would be 80,000 tons, they said.

The other TPP members are Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

First published in The Japan Times on July 27.

Warm up

One-minute chat about rice.

Game

Collect words related to trade, e.g., world, market, cars.

New words

1) tariff: fees added to goods going in and out of a country; e.g., “Tariffs protect farmers from cheap imports.”

2) quota: a number set as the upper or lower limit; e.g., “I met my quota today by making sales to 10 customers.”

3) bilateral: involving two sides; e.g., “The two countries reached a bilateral deal.”

4) staple: most important or most often used or produced; e.g., “The staple crop in that country is corn.”

5) designate: to set aside for a special purpose; e.g., “Unsold meat is designated for use as pet food.”

5) equivalent: equal to; e.g., “The number is equivalent to 10 percent of the population.”

Guess the headline

Japan pushes 70,000-ton quota for _ _ _ _ _ _-free U.S. r_ _ _

Questions

1) What was the request from the U.S. to Japan before the TPP meeting?

2) How much rice in total would Japan import with zero tariffs under its plan?

3) What are the main concerns in the TPP negotiations between Japan and the United States?

Let’s discuss the article

1) Do you care about the country of origin of products you buy?

2) What do you think about the Japanese rice-farming industry?

3) Do you agree with the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

Reference

TPPの話題が持ち上がり、世論を騒がせてからだいぶ時がたったかのように感じられますが、まだ交渉は真最中の段階です。

貿易、と一括りにしてもその対象は非常に多岐にわたり、参加各国のそれ ぞれの産業において自国産業を守りたい思いと他国に進出しマーケットを伸ばしたい思いを持った人々が声をあげる中では、交渉が難航するのも 当然のことではあります。

日本においては自動車産業と米産業が交渉の要となっていますが、本来この産業同士には繋がりがあるわけではなく、駆け引きのバランスを取る ために他産業間で調整をかけられることは各産業に従事する人々から 見れば理不尽さを感じることもあるでしょう。

多くの人がその恩恵を受けられるような結果を生み出せるパートナー シップとなることを期待したいものです。

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