The Japanese government announced today (16 October) that it will lift tariffs on all vegetables and most fishery products under the recently signed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, reports the Japan Times.
Duties on some of the 100 vegetable items will be removed several years after the free trade pact takes effect, Hiroshi Moriyama, minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, said at a news conference after a Cabinet meeting.
The US, Japan and 10 other Pacific countries reached a broad agreement earlier in the month on establishing a free trade bloc covering 40 per cent of the global economy.
Tokyo had sought to keep tariffs on politically sensitive agricultural products such as rice during years of negotiations with the 11 other nations, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand.
Moriyama dismissed concern over the potential negative impact on farmers from the new trade deal, saying vegetables such as carrots and onions are imported mainly from China, which is not a TPP member, and potatoes cannot be imported due to quarantine requirements.
“We would like to take all possible measures” to support farmers who could face competition from cheaper imports, he said.
In the wake of the new trade deal, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier this month pledged to carry out steps to bolster the competitive edge of the country’s agricultural sector, which has been heavily protected until now.
The farm ministry has said Japan will eliminate tariffs on about half of the 834 agricultural products subject to duties after the TPP takes effect.