Japan to set tariff-rate quota for Australian pork

Japan has agreed in its bilateral free trade deal with Australia to apply a tariff-rate quota system for Australian pork, under which set quantities would be imported with low duty rates, sources close to the matter said Thursday.

Tokyo and Canberra reached a substantive agreement on a bilateral free trade accord on April 7 but details have yet to be officially announced.

Japan currently levies a 4.3 percent tariff on Australian pork when import prices are lower than a standard that are set based on domestic transaction prices.

Under the FTA deal with Canberra, Tokyo has agreed to reduce pork tariffs to 2.2 percent for up to certain quantity of imports, and expand the quota over five years, according to the sources.

The government apparently believes lowering tariffs on Australian pork would have a limited impact on domestic farmers as Japan imports a small amount of pork from Australia.

Tokyo will also introduce a tariff-rate quota system for Australian ox tongue, which is a popular grilled dish in Japan known as "gyutan," to lower duty rates from the current 12.8 percent to 7.6 percent for up to a certain quantity, and expand the quota over 10 years, they said.

The two countries have announced that the basic free trade accord features Japan's tariff cut on Australian beef, while Australia will abolish its 5 percent tariffs on Japanese automobiles.

The two countries are aiming to sign the free trade pact this summer to bring about its entry into force by the end of next year.