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Japan sees EPA with Australia as useful card in TPP talks with U.S.

(Yomiuri: January 16, 2015 – p. 3)


 Japan has already signed economic partnership agreements (EPA) with India, Thailand, and several other countries, making Australia the 14th country to conclude an EPA with Japan. However, the impact of the trade pact will be tremendous because Australia is a major agricultural country.


 Negotiations for this EPA started in 2007 during the first Abe cabinet and took about seven years to finally reach a basic agreement last April.


 The Japanese government believes that the effectuation of the Japan-Australia EPA can be used to draw concessions from the U.S. in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks.


 Australian beef has over a market share of over 30% in Japan which rivals the U.S. share of over 20%. The tariff for Australian beef has now been lowered while that for U.S. beef remains at 38.5%. A Japanese government source reckons that “the U.S. may rush to reach a TPP agreement to break away from this disadvantageous situation.”


 The EPA with Australia can likewise be used to put pressure on the European Union (EU) in the ongoing EPA talks. The EU and Australia are competitors in wine and dairy products.


 Japan has been lagging behind the ROK in the promotion of free trade due to strong opposition from farmers. With the Japan-Australia EPA taking effect, it is necessary to accelerate negotiations for the TPP and for the EPA with the EU. (Slightly abridged)

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