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ECONOMY > Agriculture

EXCLUSIVE: Japan not to set U.S. rice import quota

  • September 25, 2019
  • , Jiji Press , 2:40 a.m.
  • English Press

New York, Sept. 24 (Jiji Press)–Tokyo and Washington have agreed at ministerial level that Japan will not set a tariff-free import quota for rice produced in the United States, Jiji Press learned Tuesday.


If Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump approve the absence of such a quota at a summit Wednesday, they will sign a document confirming their final agreement on a bilateral trade pact and release a joint statement, informed sources said.


The two countries are now expected to compromise on their highly sensitive areas–the rice sector for Japan and the automotive sector for the United States.


Rice was the last remaining issue in the bilateral trade negotiations. In negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade deal, Japan set an annual tariff-free import quota of up to 70,000 tons for U.S. rice before the United States withdrew from the pact in 2017.


On Monday night, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had talks on the envisioned bilateral pact. After that, Motegi told reporters, “All negotiations have ended.”


The two ministers also confirmed details of the planned joint statement.


Tokyo requested that the statement include a U.S. promise not to impose additional tariffs on Japanese vehicles. The U.S. side showed some understanding to the request.


Under the bilateral deal, Japan will lower tariffs on U.S. beef imports to 9 pct from the current 38.5 pct in stages. The threshold for invoking its safeguard emergency import restrictions will be raised.


For wheat, Japan will set an annual tariff-free import quota of 140,000 tons for the United States, 10,000 tons less than the level agreed during TPP negotiations.


As for industrial products, the United States will maintain its tariffs on automobiles and auto parts. An annex to the planned free trade agreement is expected to refer to the possibility of the eventual removal of the automotive tariffs.


At Wednesday’s summit, Abe and Trump will not sign the free trade agreement because their countries’ required domestic procedures will not finish before the meeting.


The official FTA signing is expected to take place after examinations of the proposed trade pact for about a week.


In a speech during the U.N. General Assembly’s general debate session Tuesday, Trump said he is looking forward to the planned conclusion of the free trade deal with Japan.

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