Japan’s farm minister said Tuesday that protecting the country’s sensitive agricultural products in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations will serve the national interest, indicating their protection is more important than reaching a deal by the target date.
While the 11-day-long 18th round of the talks began Monday in Malaysia, Japan is scheduled to join only from July 23, when the United States completes its domestic procedure to include Japan as the 12th member.
“Protecting the five key products, taking into account the spirit of the resolutions, will serve to protect the national interest,” farm minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said, referring to resolutions adopted by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Diet’s agriculture committees that urged protection of the products.
Japan is aiming to protect five products — beef and pork, defined as one product, rice, wheat, dairy and sugar — by retaining the high tariffs it imposes on their imports.
While market access negotiations for the elimination of tariffs will be held Monday to Friday, before Japan joins, Hayashi said, “It does not mean everything will be decided between the 15th and 19th.”
Hayashi also said at a press conference he will not fixate on the TPP countries’ plan to conclude a deal by the end of the year, indicating his focus is more on the protection of the national interest.
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