(Nikkei: July 28, 2015 – p. 3)
By Ryohei Yasoshima in Lahaina, Hawaii
The Japanese and U.S. governments will aim at settling the tough issues of rice and autos through bilateral ministerial talks on the sidelines of the 12-nation TPP negotiations. Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy and Economic Revitalization Akira Amari and USTR Michael Froman will meet several times until July 31.
The main issue is the quota for tariff-free U.S. rice imports.
The U.S. wants the Japanese government’s guarantee that the import quota will be filled, while Japan is looking at expanding the quota to 70,000 tons behind the scenes in order to draw concessions from the U.S.
It is reckoned that the battle will be fought at the 100,000-ton line, which will include the import quota for Australian rice. However, compromising too easily may invite strong reactions from domestic stakeholders.
With regard to autos, while it has been basically agreed that tariffs on more than 50% of auto parts will be eliminated after the TPP agreement takes effect, Japan is not satisfied. The U.S. still insists on eliminating tariffs on gearboxes and other parts gradually over a long period of time. Japan intends to demand immediate abolition of tariffs on these auto parts through negotiations at the ministerial level. (Slightly abridged)