According to The Nikkei Asian Review today, Japan is to eliminate import tariffs on 95% of 9,018 products under the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, the government announced on Tuesday.
It is the highest liberalization rate among free trade agreements Japan has concluded.
The Japanese government on Tuesday unveiled details of tariff removal measures to be taken under the 12-nation TPP, about two weeks after a broad agreement was reached on the historic deal.
Japan is to eliminate import tariffs on many agricultural products, excluding some sensitive items such as rice, beef and pork. The elimination of tariffs is to cover 51% of 2,328 farm products immediately after the pact takes effect. Eventually, imports of 81% of the products are to be allowed tariff-free.
The TPP is seen greatly benefiting Japanese makers of industrial products, more than 99% of which will be allowed into the U.S. and other TPP countries tariff-free.
The pact is expected to significantly boost economic activity in the Asia-Pacific region.
Akira Amari, Japan's minister for economic and fiscal policy, who was also in charge of the TPP talks, said at a regular press conference on Tuesday that the TPP is "balanced as a whole."
Amari also said Japan has successfully protected the core part of five key agricultural product categories, including rice.
Speaking at a separate regular press conference, Hiroshi Moriyama, the minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, defended Japan's agreement to abolish import tariffs on 81% of farm products.
"Despite very strong pressure for tariff elimination in the TPP negotiations," Moriyama said, the percentage of agricultural products exempted from tariff removal "is exceptionally high, at 19%."
After marathon talks, Japan, the U.S. and 10 other TPP partners reached a broad agreement on the trade deal at a ministerial meeting in Atlanta, in the southern U.S. state of Georgia, on Oct. 5.
During the negotiations, Japan tried to protect many items in five key agricultural product categories, including rice, beef, pork and dairy products, as "sanctuaries" and retain import tariffs on them.
As a result, Japan is to maintain its high tariff of 341 yen per kilogram of imported rice while setting up special import quotas for U.S. and Australian rice totaling 78,400 tons per year.
Japan's import tariff on beef is to be cut gradually from the current 38.5%; in 16 years' time, it is to decline to 9%. But Japan will not eliminate the import tariff on beef.
Also, Japan is to remove import tariffs on all 100 main vegetables. As for fruits and fishery products, Japan is to eliminate import tariffs in principle, except on some items that would put domestic growers under tough competition from tariff-free imported products.
Japan, which already imports many industrial products duty-free, is to abolish tariffs on 95% of industrial products immediately after the TPP takes effect and on all of them eventually.
The Japanese government plans to compile a package of measures as early as November to help the farm and other sectors cope with the TPP.
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