Ministers of the 12 countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations agreed Sunday to uphold a basic rule of total tariff eliminations in wrapping up their three-day meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali toward the goal of reaching a deal by the year-end.
During their effort to compile work plans for advancing talks on contentious areas, the ministers discussed market access that covers tariff elimination rules and intellectual property rights among others, despite each country having its own sensitivities.
On Japan’s sensitive items, a ruling party lawmaker in charge told reporters after the meeting that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party now plans to study the possibility of eliminating tariffs on the items that have been considered untouchable, including rice.
“We need to consider whether we can take them out or not” from the exceptional items in Japan’s negotiation policy — adopted in line with the party’s proposal — said Koya Nishikawa, head of the LDP’s TPP committee, although adding it does not necessarily mean the party has removal in mind.
“If it doesn’t hurt (Japan’s agriculture), it would be up to the government to negotiate” and decide policies, Nishikawa said.
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