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Japan-Australia EPA introduces beef volume safeguards

July 8, 2014

On July 8, the LDP's Committee on Trade in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Products (Chairman: Hiroshi Moriyama, member of the House of Representatives) received an explanation from the government on the "Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement" (EPA) signed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Abbott during Abe's visit to Australia.

The basic agreement on the Japan-Australia EPA had already been reached in April. It is the first time for Japan to sign an EPA with a major exporter of agricultural products.

While the agreement between Japan and Australia removes tariffs for agricultural, forestry, and fishing products, it specifically excludes rice and states that the handling of wheat for human consumption will be reviewed in the future.

The tariff on beef, currently at 38.5%, will be phased out. For frozen beef products, it will be roughly halved to 19.5% in the 18th year; for refrigerated products it will be reduced by approximately 40% to 23.5% in the 15th year.

To minimize the impact, the agreement also contains volume safeguards that allow Japan to raise tariffs if imports from Australia exceed predetermined levels.

The government held local meetings at 11 locations around Japan to explain the Japan-Australia EPA. The committee was informed of deep concerns expressed in these meetings about the adverse impact of the tariffs cuts on domestic beef and dairy producers.

Committee members were also concerned about the impact of lower beef tariffs on government finances.

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