• Kyodo

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The government on Tuesday released further details of the recently inked Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, saying Japan will eventually remove tariffs on 95.1 percent of farm, industrial and other imported products.

Akira Amari, the minister in charge of negotiating the agreement, said the figure is almost as good as the target, “nearly 100 percent” of imported items.

Moreover, it tops the 88.4 percent in bilateral free trade accords Japan currently has with the Philippines and Australia, which represent Tokyo’s two most sweeping existing free trade arrangements.

The new Pacific Rim trade initiative will cover 40 percent of the world economy. It encompasses 12 nations, including the United States, Canada and Australia.

The extent of Japan’s tariff elimination under TPP is smaller than those of 11 other members, as duties on some sensitive farm products will remain. Of 586 such products, only about 30 percent will eventually become tariff-free.

Tokyo, on the other hand, will remove tariffs on 95.3 percent of industrial products imported from TPP nations, while those nations’ duties on 86.9 percent of Japanese industrial exports will be eliminated once the trade pact takes effect, government officials said.

“This is a well-balanced agreement,” Amari told a news conference Tuesday. He stressed that Japan was able to keep tariffs on five key farm products while widely removing duties on other products.

He shrugged off concerns that Japanese farmers may face competition on prices with cheaper foreign products. Such agricultural products are typically imported in low volumes, and Japan already relies heavily on imports to supply those products in the domestic market, he said.

Still, the agreement may be seen as inconsistent with resolutions adopted by Diet committees in 2013 that urged the five key farm product categories — rice, wheat, beef and pork, sugar and dairy products — to be exempt from tariff elimination.

Participating nations will need to finalize the text of the treaty for formal signature in their respective processes ahead of eventual ratification.

Other TPP members are Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

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