Japan steadfast on not negotiating further on farm produce under trade agreement with U.S.: farm minister

TOKYO, June 20 – Agriculture minister Taku Eto reiterated on June 19 that agricultural products will not be subject to additional negotiations under the Japan-U.S. trade agreement that entered into force in January.

Farm produce “will not be taken up” in the negotiations, Eto stressed at a regular news conference. “Thorough discussions have already been made and a final agreement was made” on the issue, he said.

The bilateral trade agreement to reduce tariffs on agricultural and industrial products took effect in January, and the Japanese and U.S. governments had agreed to conclude consultations within four months after the date of entry into force to start the next round of negotiations.

Eto’s remarks were made after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said during a congressional hearing on June 17 that he expects the next phase of trade negotiations with Japan to start in a few months. Lighthizer did not elaborate on the specific areas to be discussed in the new round of talks.

Regarding additional talks in the areas of tariffs, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi who is in charge of the negotiations said earlier that the Japanese government does not expect to discuss issues other than elimination of tariffs on autos and auto parts.

“I trust Foreign Minister Motegi,” Eto said, adding that agricultural, forestry and fisheries products or conditions regarding the items “will not be put on the negotiating table.”

Under the pact, Japan reduced tariffs on American beef and pork to levels on par with those it promised under the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade agreement. Rice was excluded.

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