• Kyodo

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The government and Australia are set to reach an agreement in principle as early as early as next month to lower the tariff on frozen beef from Down Under, according to officials in Tokyo.

As part of negotiations for a free-trade agreement, the tariff will be reduced from 38.5 percent to 30 percent, rather than eliminated as sought by Australia.

The two sides are also negotiating a trigger in which the tariff would return to 38.5 percent if the amount of beef imports tops a certain level, the officials said Tuesday.

Frozen Australian beef is mainly used for hamburgers and other restaurant fare, and is unlikely to deal a huge blow to domestic beef producers, the officials said.

The two sides are in the last stage of talks on phasing out Australian tariffs on vehicles imported from Japan, they said.

Australia is also pushing Japan to lower tariffs for some refrigerated beef products.

Meanwhile, Japan will maintain tariffs for wheat, dairy products and sugar, among other products, the officials said.

The FTA talks were launched in 2007, with Japan seeking to expand car exports and secure stable energy resources from Australia, while Australia wants to boost its farm exports to Japan.

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