(Kanagawa Shimbun: July 17, 2015 – p. 14)
Japan has proposed expanding its low-tariff import quotas for butter and nonfat dry milk during the 12-nation negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, a source revealed on July 16. The proposal is aimed at addressing chronic shortages of butter. Meanwhile, the government is also being pressured to expand its dairy import quotas. It expects the measure to respond to such requests from New Zealand, the U.S. and other dairy-producing TPP members and win their understanding.
Japan is carefully deliberating the matter to ensure increases in import quotas will not harm domestic dairy producers and to minimize the impact.
It appears that New Zealand is ratcheting up pressure [on Japan], as it wants to capitalize on the TPP to increase its dairy exports. There is no telling whether New Zealand or the U.S. will accept Japan’s proposal.
The government currently controls imports of butter and other dairy products to protect domestic farmers. Based on its international promise, it imports nonfat dry milk and other dairy products equivalent to 137,000 tons of raw milk every year. If supplies get short, it makes additional procurements. The tariff rate is set at 35%.
Japan is considering plans to set up import quotas for butter and nonfat dry milk from New Zealand and the U.S., with the option of making them tax-free. It hopes to maintain control over dairy product imports.
The Diet passed a resolution to exempt five items of farm produce, including dairy products, from zero tariffs. (Abridged)