Japan seen still far apart from U.S. on farm exports

Washington | Reuters — The U.S. and Japan still have a way to go in resolving access for U.S. farm exports to the Japanese market as part of Pacific trade talks, a senior Japanese official said Friday.

“There was some progress but we are still far apart,” Japan’s deputy chief negotiator Hiroshi Oe told reporters after two days of meetings with U.S. officials on farm exports.

Talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a grouping including Canada and 11 other nations that would stretch from Asia to Latin America, seek to remove tariffs and other barriers to trade, particularly for agricultural goods.

The U.S. wants Japan to open its rice, beef and pork, dairy and sugar markets. Japan has said it cannot completely eliminate tariffs on all those products, prompting calls from U.S. farm groups for it to be dropped from the talks.

Oe brushed off the call and said U.S. negotiators had not raised the prospect of excluding Japan at the Washington meetings.

“Japanese farm groups are also stakeholders… we are not negotiating with the stakeholders,” he said.

Asked if Japan intended to offer the same terms to other TPP countries as it agreed with the U.S., Oe said it would depend on the tariff line but in general, “we try to apply the same formula.”

— Reporting for Reuters by Krista Hughes in Washington, D.C.

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