• Kyodo

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The government decided Friday to implement a set of measures to strengthen the farm industry, in the face of competition with its European peers, after the Japan-EU free trade agreement is implemented.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party seeks to allocate some ¥300 billion in the supplementary budget plan for fiscal 2017 to implement the steps, a source close to the matter said, as the cheese, pork, beef and timber industries, among others, will prepare for stiff competition following an agreement on the accord earlier this year.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to strengthen the farm sector also comes as the 11 signatories of the Trans-Pacific Partnership — including Japan — reached an agreement earlier this month to go ahead with implementation of the Pacific Rim free trade pact despite the withdrawal of the United States.

“The TPP and the Japan-EU economic partnership agreement are the trump cards for (Japan’s) growth strategy. I hope to realize economic growth by taking advantage of their merits as much as possible,” Abe told a meeting of ministers at his office Friday.

The new steps, compiled in a revised version of the measures the government outlined shortly after agreement on the TPP in 2015, are designed to improve the quality and reduce the production costs of domestic dairy products and raw milk.

The government will also increase subsidies to livestock farmers, to make up for their losses stemming from tougher competition and strengthen the competitiveness of Japanese timber products by making their processing facilities more efficient.

The measures are also aimed at helping small and medium-sized companies enhance their exports to the EU market.

After reaching a broad agreement on the free trade pact in July, Japan and the European Union aim to put the agreement into force as soon as possible.

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