A free trade agreement between Japan and Australia took effect Thursday, with Australia becoming the first major agricultural exporter to reach an FTA with Japan, where the farm sector has traditionally been protected.
Under the agreement, Australian exporters now have greater access to the Japanese beef market, while the deal will also benefit Japanese automakers with the abolition of 5 percent Australian tariffs on imports of Japanese automobiles.
The entry into force of the deal “represents an historic development in economic relations” between the two countries and “lays the foundation for the next phase of bilateral economic relations,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a joint statement.
Australia is the largest trade partner among countries with which Tokyo has concluded free trade deals. Abbott and Abe announced a broad agreement last April after seven years of negotiations.
Japan will lower its tariffs on Australian beef by up to half incrementally from the current 38.5 percent. Duties on frozen beef, mainly used for processed food for restaurants, will be cut to 19.5 percent over 18 years and those for chilled beef, sold in supermarkets, to 23.5 percent over 15 years, up to certain amounts.
For the first year, tariffs have been set at 30.5 percent for frozen beef and 32.5 percent for chilled beef, the Japanese farm ministry said.
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