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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 April 2 - 8  > Acceptance of tariff cut on Australian beef violates Diet resolution
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2014 April 2 - 8 [ECONOMY]

Acceptance of tariff cut on Australian beef violates Diet resolution

April 8, 2014
Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Tokyo on April 7 announced the completion of talks on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which includes cuts in tariffs on Australian beef.

Japan’s tariff rate on Australian beef is currently 38.5%. After the enforcement of the agreement, Japan will lower the tariff on chilled beef to 32.5% in the first year and to 23.5% in the 15th year. The tariff rate on frozen beef will be reduced to 30.5% in the first year and to 19.5% in the 18th year.

Australia will abolish its tariff on Japanese small- and medium-sized cars immediately after the EPA takes effect and eliminate the tariff on large vehicles such as trucks in three years.

Abe’s acceptance of the tariff cuts runs counter to a Diet resolution and his promise to comply with the resolution.

Japan’s Agriculture Ministry released a statement that the EPA will deliver a heavy blow to farmers in Japan. Based on this, the Diet adopted a resolution calling on the government to exclude important agricultural products, such as beef, from items in the Japan-Australia EPA talks.

Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Kami Tomoko on March 27 in an Agriculture Committee meeting of the House of Councilors urged that the government turn down Australia’s request for cuts in the beef tariff rate. The Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives (JA-Zenchu) repeatedly called on the government to comply with the Diet resolution. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has proclaimed that it will stick to the resolution.

On April 7, groups of farmers and citizens held a rally in front of the Prime Minister’s office in protest against the Japan-Australia EPA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact. Sasawatari Yoshio, secretary general of the National Federation of Farmers' Movement (Nouminren), criticized the EPA by saying, “Dairy and livestock farmers will be deeply impacted. Japan’s food security and food self-sufficiency will be further undermined.”

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