Japan’s Abe says no greater market access for US farm goods

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave a policy speech at the Diet on Oct. 24.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave a policy speech at the Diet on Oct. 24.

TOKYO, Oct. 25 ― Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reiterated that a new trade negotiation with the U.S. will not ask for greater agricultural market access than Tokyo had given in other free trade deals, including the Trade-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Abe delivered his policy speech at the outset of an extraordinary session of the parliament that started on Oct. 24.

This is the first session since Abe’s reelection for a third term as leader of the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and his cabinet reshuffle.

As Japan and the U.S. are set to kick off the negotiation for a trade agreement on goods (TAG) as early as January next year, Abe said, “We will not accept deeper farm tariff cuts than what we had offered in other free trade agreements.”

However, the U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has reportedly said that he wants a “sweet deal” like the EU was given by Japan. Perdue said the U.S. has been better alley to Japan, thus American farmers should get the same, if not a better deal.

In the meantime, Abe urged lawmakers in his speech to ratify the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which was signed on July 17 by both leaders.

“This is a strong demonstration that Japan keeps flag of free trade waving high,” Abe told lawmakers, acknowledging the need to stand up against rising protectionism.

“The Japan-EU EPA will cut EU tariffs for Japanese farmers and food exporters, bringing new market opportunities to boost farm exports,” he added.

The Japanese government is pushing domestic ratification process to ensure the deal with the EU to come into force earlier next year, ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU in March as well as European Parliament elections in May.

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