• Kyodo

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The government said Friday it plans to adopt a policy package in the fall to help dairy and livestock farmers who will be impacted by the Japan-EU free trade deal agreed on last week.

The package would focus on alleviating possible adverse effects on farmers who will be affected by the influx of cheaper European food items, such as cheese, pork and beef, by helping to enhance the competitiveness of their products, government officials said.

At a Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “We will make the utmost effort to dispel the concerns of people involved.” He expressed the government’s readiness to help local farmers market their products overseas.

Under the free trade deal, signed on July 6, Japan and the 28-member bloc will remove tariffs on a broad range of products. The two sides aim to put the agreement into force in early 2019.

The government is set to calculate the expected losses by domestic farmers and earmark funds for countermeasures in the fiscal 2017 supplementary budget draft as well as the 2018 budget, the officials said.

Under a basic policy adopted by the government Friday in response to the Japan-EU trade pact, Tokyo will help domestic farmers improve the quality of dairy products and reduce their production costs as well as support the branding of items.

The trade deal stipulates Japan will set up a low-tariff quota on European soft cheese, initially set at 20,000 tons, and the tariff for the quota will be eliminated in 15 years after the deal comes into force. On hard cheeses such as cheddar and gouda, Tokyo will scrap import duties after 15 years.

The government will also expand the grant system for livestock farmers to make up for their losses as tariffs on European beef and pork will be lowered under the pact.

It will also take steps to strengthen the competitiveness of Japanese timber products by implementing measures to make processing facilities more efficient and help food producers. The trade deal will remove tariffs on 10 timber items in seven years and scrap duties on European chocolates, candies and pasta after 10 years.

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