Ruling party urges government to avoid further market liberalization for farm products in trade talks with the United States

TOKYO, April 13 – As Japan and the United States are set to launch talks on a trade pact in Washington on April 15, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party held a meeting on trade negotiations on April 12 and adopted a resolution calling on the government to avoid reaching an agreement that is beneficial only to the U.S.

The party asked Toshimitsu Motegi, minister in charge of the trade talks, the same day not to agree on reducing tariffs on agricultural products beyond levels agreed under the initial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade talks before the U.S.’ withdrawal.

The LDP’s resolution was aimed at urging the government not to make concessions amid increasing pressure from the U.S. to further open Japan’s agriculture market.

Speaking to Japanese reporters in Washington on April 11, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said: “I hope we can come to a very quick agreement with Japan over maybe some temporary … provisions and hash out the many other issues that take longer in this area.”

On April 9, Perdue said, “We hope very quickly we can get a trade agreement with Japan, a bilateral agreement that certainly equals or exceeds the TPP provisions.”

The LDP clearly stated in the resolution that the government should conduct negotiations based on the joint statement issued by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump in September which said: “with regard to agricultural, forestry, and fishery products, outcomes related to market access as reflected in Japan’s previous economic partnership agreements constitute the maximum level.”

The LDP’s resolution also said the agreement “should be a full package and should not be a partial agreement that includes only certain areas.”

Regarding market liberalization of farm produce, such as a low-tariff quota for dairy products, the resolution said the bilateral agreement between the two nations “should not exceed the TPP-12 (before the U.S.’ withdrawal) provisions,” to make sure that no new quotas will be set in addition to the one agreed upon under the 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact that entered into force in December.

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