Japan reportedly expected to propose reducing tariffs on certain quantity of US beef imports as compromise plan to US in ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks

TOKYO , February 18, 2014 () – Japan is expected to propose reducing tariffs on a certain quantity of beef imports from the United States as a compromise plan to Washington in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.

Japan had been reluctant to cut tariffs on key farm products including beef and pork, but it decided to offer a concession amid strong pressure from the United States to open up its agricultural sector.

Tokyo will likely propose the plan to Washington during bilateral working-level talks being held in Tokyo, the sources added.

Imported beef is currently subject to a 38.5 percent tariff. Japan now plans to propose lowering the figure to less than 30 percent, while it is also considering proposing a reduction in tariffs levied on low-priced pork from the United States, which is currently subject to a high level of duties, they said.

Tokyo's envisioned proposal to Washington on beef compares with its separate proposal to Australia to cut tariff on beef imports to around 30 percent in bilateral negotiations for a free trade agreement.

Tokyo hopes to obtain approval from the United States by offering more favorable treatment on U.S. beef than Australian beef.

Among goods categorized as five sensitive farm product groups, Tokyo is seeking to retain tariffs on rice -- a staple part of the Japanese diet -- while increasing the amount of its imports from the United States. Duties on sugar will likely be retained, the sources added.

(c) 2014 Kyodo News International, Inc.

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