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Agricultural measures in response to TPP accord to last for at least 15 years

  • 2015-11-09 15:00:00
  • , Sankei
  • Translation

(Sankei: November 8, 2015 – p. 1)

 

 The draft outline of the government and the ruling parties’ agricultural measures in response to the basic TPP agreement was revealed on Nov. 7. The proposed measures are expected to last for at least 15 years because tariff for many products will be abolished or reduced in stages over an extended period of time. A fund applicable for multiple products will be created to support the development of products suitable for exporting to overseas markets. The government plans to compile its outline of TPP measures by Nov. 25 and budget allocations for some measures will be included in the FY2015 supplementary budget.

 

 The Finance Ministry had proposed 10 years for the duration of the TPP measures, based on the experience with the 1993 Uruguay Round agreement of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). On the other hand, Liberal Democratic Party Diet members concerned with agricultural issues argued that TPP measures should continue while tariff changes are taking place, demanding a longer period.

 

 The government and the ruling parties settled on “at least 15 years” considering tariff on beef, a domestic sector expected to be seriously affected, will be gradually reduced to 9% in the 16th year after the TPP accord takes effect from the current 38.5%. Although tariff on whey will be abolished after 20 years, it is reckoned that “farmers’ competitiveness can be enhanced within 15 years,” according to a senior government official.

 

 On the other hand, tariff-free beef exports to the U.S. will increase 20 times from the current level (40 times after 14 years) under the TPP agreement, for instance. This will pave the way for expanding the export of agricultural products.

 

 In light of this, the draft outline includes measures to strengthen export strategy. Adopting the method of setting up funds, which are usually limited to specific products at present, a fund for multiple products devoted to export strategy will be created to help stabilize farmers’ income.

 

 Assistance to the Japan External Trade Organizations (JETRO), which has 73 overseas offices, will also be increased to expand foreign market research.

 

 With regard to rice, which was a key issue during the TPP negotiations, the government’s rice reserve program will be shortened by one year from five years (annual procurement set at 200,000 tons, making a total of 1 million tons in five years) to four years (250,000 tons per year) in order to prevent the new import quota for U.S. and Australian rice (up to 784,000 tons) from causing a decline in rice prices. Priority will be given to imported rice for the additional procurement each year.

 

 In terms of short-term measures, new funds will be created or existing funds expanded to assist fruit and vegetable farmers whose products will be affected by the immediate reduction or abolition of tariff.

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