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POLITICS

Gov’t to deal with TPP impact on rice farmers

  • 2015-10-08 15:00:00
  • , Asahi
  • Translation

(Asahi: October 8, 2015 – p. 6)

 

 A deal was reached on rice tariff at the TPP talks. This was the most important issue for Japan. In exchange for keeping a high tariff of 341 yen per kilogram of rice, Japan will create a new import quota (of up to 80,000 tons each year) for the U.S. and Australia. The key question from now on is how to implement measures to help the affected domestic farmers.

 

 Hiroshi Moriyama, chair of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) TPP committee, was in Atlanta to observe the negotiations. After a basic agreement was reached, he told reporters: “The issues we were concerned about did not become a major problem. As long as we take effective measures, the TPP will definitely benefit Japan’s agriculture.” Moriyama was named minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries on Oct. 7, the day after he returned from Atlanta.

 

 As a result of the TPP talks, Japan will be creating a preferential tariff-free rice import quota for the U.S. and Australia on top of the existing minimum access obligation of 770,000 tons each year. This means that imported rice may increase by up to 10% from the present level. However, since the import quota is not a mandatory obligation like minimum access, there will not be any significant imports unless there is demand from the private sector.

 

 The annual demand for rice in Japan is around 7.8 million tons (July 2014-June 2015), while production is around 7.9 million tons (in 2014) even after adjustment. Due to the diversification of dietary habits, demand is decreasing at the rate of 80,000 tons a year.

 

 Therefore, there is an opinion that actual increase in imports will be minimal even with the new import quota. One LDP Diet member lobbying for agricultural interests says: “There will be very little impact on demand and supply. We won in the negotiations on rice.” (Slightly abridged)

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