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Japan to import more rice to help conclude deal

TOKYO -- Japan has agreed to import more rice from the U.S. and Australia under a draft deal being negotiated as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it was learned Monday.

     Rice has been the focal point of agricultural talks in the TPP trade negotiations. Japan will set up the import quotas for rice at 50,000 tons for the U.S. and 6,000 tons for Australia. Then the quotas will be expanded to 70,000 tons and 8,400 tons, respectively, in or after the 13th year.

     Japan will also progressively reduce the tariff on beef from the current 38.5% to 9% in the next 16 years.

     On the other hand, the U.S. will abolish tariffs on agriculture products, such as Japanese wagyu beef, rice and fruit, for which Japan has been focusing on exports.

     A Japanese government source said that the deal was narrowly concluded to maintain the production of domestic products.

     As for dairy products, Japan will gradually lower tariffs on aged cheeses, such as cheddar and gouda, and eventually abolish them in the 16th year. Also, the tariff on blue cheese, which is currently 29.8%, will be reduced by 50% by the 11th year.

     Import quotas for processed cheese will be separately set up for Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. to give preferential treatment.

(Nikkei)

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