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Analysis of TPP deal indicates possibility of tariff elimination for all farm products

  • 2016-02-02 15:00:00
  • , Tokyo Shimbun
  • Translation

(Tokyo Shimbun: February 2, 2016 – Top play)


 With the signing ceremony for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade accord rapidly approaching on Feb. 4, lawyers and others who are filing a lawsuit against the government over the TPP deal, claiming the agreement unconstitutional, analyzed the English agreement and compiled the results of their analysis, indicating concern that tariffs on all agricultural products will be lifted over an extended period of time. The analysis points out that there will be no exceptional provisions on the elimination of tariffs, including those on the five key agricultural sectors, including rice. The lawyers are concerned that the tariffs will be completely eliminated in the future because there is no provision to guarantee exceptions.


 The analysis was conducted by a team of about ten people, including Masahiko Yamada, a lawyer who served as agriculture minister, Seiko Yamada, head of the Asia-Pacific Research Center, and Kan Higashiyama, a professor at Hokkaido University.


 The TPP agreement stipulates (in the second paragraph of Article 2 and 4) that unless otherwise provided, the member countries will gradually lift tariffs based on their lists. Under other economic pacts such as the Japan-Australia economic partnership agreement (EPA), similar articles use the expression “lift or reduce.” The TPP provisions exclude the option of reducing tariff rates.


 Even so, the handling of the tariffs on the five key farm products such as rice, which will be maintained, is based on stipulations in attachments to the agreement.


 But even in the attachments there are differences between other economic deals, including the Japan-Australia EPA, and the TPP. The Japan-Australia EPA and other economic accords set “exceptional provisions,” and the tariffs on rice are exempt from elimination. Although the TPP deal does not include exceptional provisions, it has a provision that allows renegotiations to be held on all of Japan’s tariffs if the United States, Australia and other counties seek them seven years after the agreement comes into effect.


 The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) admits that there are no exceptional provisions on the tariffs in the TPP accord. However, MOFA’s economic cooperation division emphasized: “We believe that we have obtained a de facto exception in connection with the products for which tariffs have only been reduced. We are not required to eliminate all tariffs even in renegotiations.”


 The team points out that consultations will also be held on the five key categories premised on tariff elimination during renegotiations and the tariffs will be removed over the long term.

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