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Tariff removal likely to bring down sushi prices in Japan

TOKYO -- The new Pacific Rim trade pact that promises to eliminate tariffs on goods traded in the region could delight sushi lovers by bringing down prices here.

     Once the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement takes effect, tariffs will vanish on nearly all of 350 seafood imports, with the exception of about 10 seaweed products. 

     The current 7% tariff on sea urchins, a popular sushi ingredient, will be abolished immediately. More than half of sea urchins consumed in Japan come from overseas, largely from TPP partners Chile, Canada and the U.S.

     The same goes for duties on octopus and seasoned salmon roes. A 5% tariff on air- or salt-cured lobsters will end immediately, and the 7% on live abalones will be eliminated on the 11th year.

     Tariffs on seaweeds will come down immediately but will be kept at certain levels to protect growers. Duties on dried nori will come down to 34% from 40%, and those for wakame will fall to 8.9% from 10.5%.

     "We will curtail the effect of the imports since many of the country's seaweed growers are small," said a Fisheries Agency official.

     The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has already has announced that tariffs will be eliminated on bonito and certain frozen salmon instantly but will be kept on mackerel for 16 years. In all, over 95% of seafood tariffs would be eliminated.

     The farm ministry has yet to disclose trade negotiation outcomes on fruit and other items, but has said information on all products will be made public as early as next week.


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