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Some countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations are proposing phaseout periods extending over 10 years for the elimination of tariffs, negotiation sources said Sunday.
The proposal could affect the negotiating stance of Japan, which has been seeking to exempt tariffs on key farm products from the TPP's liberalization rule.
While the TPP is aimed at eliminating all tariffs, the length of phaseout periods and exceptions to the elimination rule depend on the ongoing negotiations.
The 12 countries involved in the TPP talks are currently negotiating on market access covering tariffs on goods in the 19th round of negotiations in Brunei from Thursday through Aug. 30.
Japan, which joined the talks in July, has been seeking to retain tariffs on rice, wheat, beef, pork, dairy products and sugar, fearing an influx of cheap imports could devastate Japan's agricultural sector.
But some even within the government believe retaining tariffs on all of the items will be difficult as TPP countries are seeking to achieve high-level trade liberalization and conclude a deal by the end of the year.
Japan held preparatory talks with the United States on joining the TPP negotiations, and the two agreed that the United States would eliminate its tariffs on Japanese automobiles and trucks under a phaseout period longer than that of the U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement.
The U.S.-South Korea FTA states tariffs on automobiles will be eliminated in five years after the agreement enters into force, while those on trucks will be eliminated in 10 years.
The United States is pursuing a high-level of trade and investment liberalization in the TPP negotiations, while seeking to minimize the impact on U.S. industry.
As the agreement between the United States and Japan will be reflected in the TPP negotiations, the phasing out of U.S. tariffs on trucks imported from Japan is expected to exceed 10 years.
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