Japan to seek to keep tariffs on 5 farm products in TPP talks

Japan will seek to keep the tariffs it imposes on five key farm products in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations, government sources said Friday.

Under domestic pressure to protect the country's agriculture industry, Tokyo plans to put top priority on winning exemptions for rice, wheat, beef, sugar and dairy products from the principle of total tariff elimination when it joins the TPP negotiations next month.

Japan will participate in the 18th round of TPP talks to be held in Malaysia on July 15-25. Japan can only participate in the talks from July 23, when the United States completes domestic procedures to admit Japan to the talks.

As the last day of the 18th round of talks is expected to be devoted to Japan, the government plans to clarify its stance on the farm products then, according to the sources.

"We will make assertions based on the information we have obtained so far. We have no intention to be just briefed" at the July talks, a government official said.

While Malaysia has said negotiations for 14 out of 29 chapters are considered "substantially closed," Japan's TPP minister Akira Amari said Friday there is still room for negotiating, adding talks on "topics of interest for Japan have not been closed."

The Japanese government estimates that joining the TPP could slash Japan's agricultural output by 3 trillion yen annually, even as it boosts gross domestic product by 0.66 percent or 3.2 trillion yen.

With the expected impact on farming, Diet committees on agriculture as well as the ruling Liberal Democratic Party adopted resolutions demanding the government protect key farm products.

The 11 countries currently involved in the talks are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.