Japan and Vietnam have reached basic agreement regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks, including maintaining Japan’s tariffs on rice, it was learned Saturday, July 4.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung said after meeting in Tokyo that they agreed to declare the fundamental completion of Vietnam-Japan negotiations on the TPP talks. They said the two sides will spare no effort to deal with some remaining technical issues for an early conclusion of the TPP negotiations in the time ahead.
According to negotiation sources, as for the controversial issue of rice, the two nations agreed that Japan will assist Vietnam in spreading cultivation techniques which enables reduced use of agricultural chemicals in the nation in exchange for maintaining its tariffs on rice and deciding not to establish an import quota for Vietnamese rice.
In the past, Vietnam has exported rice used in processed foods to Japan under the minimum access quota of 770,000 tons per year. Its annual export to Japan reached more than 100,000 tons at most, but declined sharply since fiscal 2008.
It had not exported any polished rice to Japan except in fiscal 2012, mainly due to the use of chemicals in rice production, negotiation sources said, adding that Vietnam apparently thought they can increase Japan-bound rice exports if they obtain technological assistance from Japan to reduce the use of chemicals.
Rice is also the main focus of bilateral negotiations between Japan and the United States. The U.S. is demanding that Japan set a special import quota of 175,000 tons for U.S.-made table rice, which is much higher than what Japan has proposed. Negotiators of the two nations are expected to work on finding a middle ground at their meeting scheduled to start on Thursday, July 9.
(July 6, 2015)