Government ministerial appointments made in Japan following the country’s December 16 elections auger well for more rapid progress in discussions with Australia over a bilateral Free Trade Agreement, market watchers suggest.
Japan’s opposition LDP party was returned to government following December’s election, with its leader, Shinzo Abe, elected as prime minister.
Mr Abe was the prime minister in a previous LDP Government when the original Free Trade Agreement discussions with Australia first started and he has been considered a ‘positive influence’ in the discussion over an FTA with Australia.
Talks effectively broke down after Japan’s devastating Tsunami event of March 2011, and only resumed in the second half of last year.
Mr Abe’s appointment this week of Toshimitsu Motegi as Japan’s trade minister, and Yoshimasa Hayashi as agriculture minister has added to confidence that an FTA with Australia might now be possible. Both appointees are graduates of Harvard University in the US and are perceived by onlookers to be supporters of trade liberalisation.
From the Australian beef industry’s perspective, the best outcome would be one that provides greater access for Australian meat products and the elimination of import tariffs that are currently set at 38.5pc for chilled and frozen beef.
Meanwhile in other North Asian trade access developments, Korean regional governments are putting provisions in place to try to reinforce the competitiveness of Korea’s livestock industry in the face of FTAs established last year with the US and other countries.
Korea’s Nonghyup Prefecture has created brand programs designed to bring all of the region’s livestock cooperatives under a single brand identity so that the production, distribution and marketing of their products are ‘systemised and streamlined.’