(The Japan Agricultural News: October 6, 2015 – p. 1)
By Takanori Okabe, Satomi Tamai, Hayato Niki
ATLANTA – As the 12 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact have reached a broad agreement, Japan will also have to expand its imports of key agricultural products. Japan has agreed to drastically decrease its markup on wheat and tariffs on beef and pork as well as establish an import quota of 70,000 tons for dairy products. Japan will also agree to import a certain amount of sweetening resources.
Japan will set up new annual tariff-free import quotas of 70,000 tons for U.S. rice and 8,400 tons for Australian rice, in addition to minimum access (MA) rice. However, Japan will adopt the simultaneous buy and sell (SBS) system, under which Japan is not obliged to import those amounts of rice. In addition to the introduction of substantive preferential measures for U.S. rice even under the MA rice imports, Japan will decrease or eliminate the tariffs on prepared and processed rice products.
Japan will reduce by 45% its markup on wholesale prices of imported wheat and barley in the first eight years, while maintaining its present national trade system. It will also set up special import quotas of up to 253,000 tons for wheat and 65,000 tons for barley, and a quota of 60,000 tons annually for prepared flour products. It will also cut by 60% the import tariffs on macaroni and spaghetti. In addition, it will create import quotas for malt from the U.S., Australia and Canada in the present tariff-free import quotas.
Japan will gradually lower the present 38.5% tariff on beef from the TPP member countries to 9% in the sixteenth year of the agreement and beyond. It will introduce a safeguard measure (emergency import measure) to raise the tariffs if the amount of beef imported from TPP countries exceeds a certain level. However, even if the safeguard measure is introduced when the import tariff is 9%, the tariff will be hiked up to 18%. If the measure is not taken for four years, the safeguard will be scrapped in or after the 16th year.
Japan will lower its 482-yen per kilogram tariff on pork to 50 yen in the tenth year and beyond, and eliminate its 4.3% tariff on high-end pork in 10 years. It will introduce the safeguard tariff for pork but abolish it in the twelfth year.
Japan will create low-tariff import quotas for powdered skim milk and butter from New Zealand, the U.S. and Australia. It will eliminate the tariffs on some cheeses such as cheddar and gouda as well as whey over an extended period. It will set import quotas of up to 150 tons each for processed cheese from Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S.
Japan will maintain the present sugar value adjustment system for raw and refined sugar. However, it has agreed to abolish its import tariff on high sugar content raw sugar for refinement and reduce its adjustment payment. It will set low-tariff import quotas of up to 9.6 tons for chocolate and prepared products containing sugar and cocoa. It will maintain the sugar value adjustment system for starch, setting import quotas of up to 7,500 tons for starch from TPP member countries within the existing low-tariff import quota (16.7 tons).