Japan set to slash tariffs on EU pasta

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Japan News | 16 June 2017

Japan set to slash tariffs on EU pasta

(The Yomiuri Shimbun) The government is making arrangements to accept a substantial tariff cut on pasta made in the European Union, such as spaghetti, in Japan-EU economic partnership agreement negotiations, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The government plans to propose a tariff reduction that exceeds the levels agreed on in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, according to informed sources.

Currently, Japan imposes a tariff of ¥30 per kilogram on spaghetti and macaroni imported from the EU. The government is considering reducing this to lower than ¥12, the level incorporated in the TPP accord.

The government apparently aims to seek concessions from the EU over tariffs on automobiles, cheese and other items — the focal points of the negotiations.

Most of the raw material for domestically produced pasta is imported wheat, so there will be little impact on Japanese wheat farmers even if pasta imports increase due to the tariff reduction. This apparently prompted the government to consider lowering the tariffs.

The government had previously been cautious about making concessions to lower the tariffs that exceed the levels agreed upon by the TPP member countries because if Japan makes such concessions, it would give reasons for the United States to call for a similar level of concession when the two countries enter bilateral trade negotiations. This also could lead TPP member countries to demand renegotiations on the pact.

It is the first time the government will make a proposal on the reduction of tariffs for key items that is larger than what is included in the TPP agreement.

Pasta from the EU accounts for about 50 percent of Japan’s pasta imports.

“The Japanese government believes the United States and other TPP member countries do not have a strong interest in the issue,” a source close to the Japan-EU EPA negotiations said. Thus, the government judged it possible to significantly reduce the tariff on pasta from the EU.

source: Japan News