Japan and Free Trade
Japan and Free Trade

Selections from the Nikkei Weekly article address Japan’s free trade agreements (FTAs).

“No time to lose in opening Japan’s agricultural markets…It is glaringly obvious that Japan needs to act more swiftly under a clearly defined strategy to avoid ending up a big loser in the global trend toward entering FTAs.

To accelerate FTA negotiations, Japan needs to offer clear benefits to its potential partners. And Japan’s unwillingness to open its closed agricultural markets – due mainly to the political power of the farm lobby – is almost always the principal obstacle to that effort.

The EU, for instance, is interested in increasing exports to Japan of pork, beef, dairy products and processed foods. To persuade the EU to scrap its tariffs on Japanese industrial exports, Japan needs to offer the EU better access to its markets.

Like Japan, South Korea carefully protected its farm sector for a long time. But Seoul made a bold decision to open its markets to almost all agricultural products except rice in order to conclude an FTA with the U.S.

It is time for Japanese political leaders to stop shying away from the challenge of opening up the country’s agricultural markets.”

Source: “No time to lose in opening Japan’s agricultural markets.” Nikkei Weekly. October 22nd, 2007