Australia‘s trade minister said his country is willing to make “significant movement” to be able to finalize the economic partnership agreement that is almost 7 years in the making. Andrew Robb however said that Japan should also be willing to make compromises, particularly in the tricky area of tariffs on agricultural products.
Robb will be in Tokyo next week ahead of the April 7 summit between Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. To finalize a free trade agreement, the two countries would need to make compromises on market access issues, specifically for automobiles for Japan and farm products for Australia. While Australia is willing to be more flexible when it comes to auto tariffs, Robb says they also need to see that Japan will allow tariffs on beef and dairy products to be a priority. The Japanese government is now looking at cutting the current 38.5% duty on Australian beef to less than 30%.
The two countries are also involved in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Parternship free trade agreement negotiations. But while the talks between the United States and Japan seem to have bogged down, Australia is looking at getting ahead of the US, which is one of its main competitors in the beef export market. Robb accepts that they will not be able to reach a “total liberalization” just like what happened in their FTA with South Korea, but he’s looking at making significant progress. They’re also looking at becoming “the first significant agricultural country” in the Japanese market but is not looking at competing with local producers, but with other countries.
[ via Nikkei ]