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POLITICS

Rice import issue being readied for political settlement in Japan-U.S. TPP talks

  • 2015-07-27 15:00:00
  • , Asahi
  • Translation

(Asahi: July 26, 2015 – p. 4)

 

 The chief negotiators’ meeting of the 12 participating nations in the TPP negotiations finished its first day of talks in Maui, Hawaii on July 24 (U.S. time). Final coordination also took place in the Japan-U.S. working level talks to narrow down the points requiring political settlement before the ministerial meeting begins on July 28.

 

 According to a Japanese government source, the first day of chief negotiators’ talks took up “legal and systemic provisions” pertaining to the operational rules of TPP. The key issue was data protection period for new drugs under intellectual property.

 

 Along with rule-making by the 12 TPP nations, tariff talks between Japan and the U.S. also reached a critical stage.

 

 Japan presented a proposal to increase, in stages, priority import quota for U.S. rice up to 70,000 tons over 13 years. It had so far insisted on 50,000 tons to the U.S.’s demand for 175,000 tons, but has come to judge that it will need to make some concessions acceptable to the U.S. It is also showing willingness to increase U.S. rice’s share in the mandatory “minimum access” imports, in an attempt to find a meeting point.

 

 A source on agricultural issues pointed out that it is widely believed that “the full amount under the quota will not be imported” because there is no substantial demand for imported rice in Japan. A proposal is also being considered for the government to buy up the same amount of domestic rice if imports exceed a certain level, in order to prevent rice prices from falling.

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