Japan may propose to slash farm market access in TPP-11 talks

TOKYO, Aug. 16 — Japan was likely to put at least two agricultural proposals on the table when 11 members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were to meet in Australia on Aug. 28-30.

The first is an indefinite scheme that scales back agricultural market access, and the second a change in the special safeguard (SSG) for beef imports, until the United States returns to the TPP, informed sources have said.

The TPP deal was reached in October 2015 when 12 countries, including the U.S., resolved outstanding issues such as agricultural market access.

But the administration of President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the TPP within a day of his taking office this year.

Now Tokyo wants to cut back agricultural market access in accompanying supplemental documents that stipulate new tariff rate quotas (TRQ) for sensitive products to be reduced by the amount allocated to the U.S., until and if Washington comes back to the TPP.

On the same tack, Tokyo wants to change SSG criteria for beef imports by reducing U.S. annual imports, which will result in less triggers to invoke the trade remedy.

Japan doesn’t believe the deal can be renegotiated, even after the U.S. left the TPP, so it wants to fix as few issues as possible without reopening the text of the deal.

Tokyo’s aim is to bring into the TPP reality checks after the U.S. left the deal, but also hopes Washington might take the bait on offer to come back to the TPP.

The remaining 11 members are aiming to reach an agreement on how to bring the deal into force without the U.S. by early November when their leaders meet at the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam.

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