Japan, U.S. resume series of talks on farm tariffs, autos


Officials from Japan and the United States resumed a series of meetings Monday to discuss tariffs on agriculture produce under the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, as well as the bilateral trade of cars.

The Japanese and U.S. officials followed up a meeting of chief negotiators with the 12-country TPP initiative, which ended Saturday in Ottawa without any breakthroughs on the current impasse.

Hiroshi Oe, Japan’s deputy chief TPP negotiator, and Wendy Cutler, acting deputy U.S. trade representative, began a two-day meeting Monday on the long-standing issue of Japan’s demands to maintain exceptional tariffs on some of its farm products under the deal.

One of the sticking points in the Japan-U.S. negotiations is Tokyo’s tariffs on beef and pork.

Japan has been considering lowering tariffs on beef and pork, and demanded the United States allow Tokyo to introduce safeguard measures to protect domestic producers. The measures would limit imports of the products should they surge under the TPP.

Japan has also called for exceptional tariffs on rice, wheat, dairy products and sugar.

Japan and the United States are among the 12 nations working to strike a TPP deal that would cover some 40 percent of global economic output. The others are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Following the talks on farm products, the Japanese and U.S. governments will begin three days of meetings Wednesday on the bilateral trade of automobiles in connection with the TPP.

Takeo Mori, deputy director general of the Economic Affairs Bureau of the Foreign Ministry, and Cutler will discuss Washington’s call for Tokyo to lift nontariff barriers such as regulatory standards in the hope that U.S. automakers can boost sales in Japan.

The existing U.S. tariffs on Japanese cars and trucks are also expected to be on the agenda for that meeting.

Meanwhile, the minister in charge of the TPP discussions, Akira Amari, said at a Tuesday news conference in Tokyo that the 12 TPP countries should aim to strike an deal before the end of this year, and that an agreement needs to be something “more detailed” than a broad pact.

“We need to have an agreement that can be put before the Diet,” Amari said.

“Leaders of the 12 nations should share the notion that we will put as much effort as we can to seal a pact by the year’s end. It is not desirable to let the negotiations go on for a long time.”

  • Demosthenes

    Good old Japan. Hanging on with their angry little farmer mobs demanding tariffs against cheaper and better U.S. produce. Wake up Japan – you are being left behind. Drop the arrogance and your country might start getting back into the black!