Japan is expected to offer only modest reductions on tariffs on beef imports in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks, according to highly-placed Japanese sources.
The Abe administration has been reluctant to cut tariffs on key farm products, including beef and pork, but it decided to offer the concession under strong pressure from the US to open up its agricultural sector, the Japan Times reported.
The TPP offer will probably be put on the table during bilateral working-level talks being held in Tokyo this week, the sources said.
Imported beef from suppliers like Australia and the US is currently subject to a 38.5 percent tariff on entry into Japan. The proceeds from the tariff are largely used to subsidise local farmers.
Japanese negotiators plan to propose lowering the figure offered to the US under TPP to ‘less than 30 percent’, they said.
Such a proposal is in stark contrast with recent FTA agreements reached with Korea, with both US and Australian beef tariffs are set to fall to zero over 15 years.
The proposal to Washington on beef compares with Japan’s separate proposal to Australia to cut tariff on beef imports to ‘around 30 percent’ in negotiations for a separate Free Trade Agreement.
Japan hopes to obtain approval from the US by offering ‘more favourable’ treatment on US beef than Australian beef, the Japan Times reported.
Among other goods categorised as ‘sensitive farm product groups’, the Abe administration is seeking to retain tariffs on rice while increasing the amount of Japan’s rice imports from the US. Duties on sugar will likely be retained, the sources said.