TOKYO, Aug. 10 – Toshimitsu Motegi, economic revitalization minister in charge of measures related to trade agreements, said in a group interview on Aug. 9 with The Japan Agricultural News and other media outlets that revisions to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which the United States has withdrawn from, will be kept to “the minimum necessary.” Regarding the economic partnership agreement between Japan and the European Union, Motegi said the government will take all the necessary measures to promote expansion of Japan’s agricultural exports and maintain domestic production of important farm products – namely rice, wheat, beef and pork, dairy products and sugar.
Q. By when do you want the 11 TPP member countries to conclude an agreement without the U.S.?
A. We are scheduled to finish discussing specific measures aimed at early enactment of the agreement before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Danang, Vietnam, in November. I hope Japan can lead the discussion with speediness in order to come up with good results so that the agreement will take effect soon.
Q. TPP member countries are divided over how much the agreement should be revised. How much revision would Japan accept?
A. To create a comprehensive and high-level agreement, our discussion will be based on what 12 member countries have initially agreed upon. I have heard that there are not many who insist on revising market access and tariff issues. We will take into consideration such opinions and work on what points to revise or allow a grace period. I believe those revisions will be kept to the minimum necessary, and Japan is determined to take the initiative in the discussion.
Q. What kind of measures are necessary in regard to the Japan-EU EPA?
A. The Japan-EU EPA is an important pillar of Japan’s growth strategy along with the TPP agreement. As Japan and the EU have reached a broad agreement in July, it is necessary to implement all possible measures to make the agreement link directly to Japan’s economic growth.
We will promote exports of agricultural produce based on the basic policy compiled by the government’s TPP headquarters. We will take all possible measures to build a strong agriculture industry to enable continued production of farm items important for the country. We hope to revise the outline of comprehensive policies related to the TPP agreement in fall and announce the necessary measures within the plan.