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POLITICS

Japan, U.S. making concessions over rice import for TPP deal

  • 2015-07-23 15:00:00
  • , Yomiuri
  • Translation

(Yomiuri: July 23, 2015 – p. 9)

 

 Japan and the U.S. are nearing the end in their bilateral talks over rice, which are part of negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. With the 12-country trade pact expected to be finalized at a ministerial meeting later this month, it appears that the two countries have made concessions to address the biggest sticking point in their tariff deal.

 

 Washington demands Tokyo not leave rice imports to private-sector transactions but give a guarantee ensuring expansion of imports of U.S.-grown rice. They will step up efforts to iron out differences.

 

 Japan imports 770,000 tons of tariff-free “minimum access” rice every year to meet its obligation under the WTO rule. Of that amount, 360,000 tons are shipped from the U.S. Bilateral talks focus on creating a special TPP quota beside this scheme in order to increase rice imports.

 

 The U.S demands Japan guarantee imports of U.S. rice as it guarantees minimum access rice. Japan, for its part, proposes leaving imports in the hands of the private sector. The U.S. demands Japan make concessions, arguing that the Japanese proposal may limit actual imports to around 50,000 tons even if a special import quota is set at 80,000 tons.

 

 One factor behind this is the narrowing of the price gap between Japanese and the U.S. rice due to such factors as the yen’s fall. The appeal of U.S. rice in price is ebbing among Japanese restaurants.

 

 Meanwhile, if Tokyo agrees to guarantee rice imports from the U.S., it may be able to draw concessions from Washington and propose a smaller import quota for U.S. rice.

 

 Japan seeks ways that will give it an upper hand.

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