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Japan's embassies, consulates to help push agriculture exports

Tokyo to require monthly reports on farm products from overseas missions

TOKYO -- Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono will direct diplomatic outposts to prepare monthly accounts outlining the local state of Japanese farm products as part of the government's efforts to boost exports for such goods.

This is the first time that monthly reports will be required. Currently, Tokyo is only informed of local problems concerning exports of agricultural goods. The Japan External Trade Organization's overseas branches are also preparing to submit reports.

The goal is to get ambassadors and heads of JETRO offices to grasp local demand, customs and other hurdles for Japanese farm products. The information will then be shared with the appropriate ministries and agencies to help create policies to increase exports. One reason domestic farmers have hesitated to export their goods, for example, is that quarantine and pesticide standards are unclear for some countries or regions.

The agencies are also encouraged to take a proactive stance by meeting directly with local buyers, among other recommendations.

The government is targeting 1 trillion yen ($8.86 billion) in agricultural exports by 2019. Japan sent 750.2 billion yen worth of farm goods abroad in 2016, meaning that exports would have to grow roughly 10% per year to meet the government's mark. The growth rate was only about 5% in the first half of 2017.

"We will redouble our support for Japanese businesses to break out of the lull" in exports, Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi, an adviser to the prime minister in charge of promoting agricultural exports, told The Nikkei. He also views the elimination of some tariffs resulting from Japan's basic agreement to a trade pact with the European Union as an opportunity.


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