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Japan May Not Face Forestry and Fishery Tariffs

In a move which will certainly affect New Zealand, Japan may not have to accept-tariff reduction pressures in two sectors that it heavily protects - forestry and fisheries. John Howard reports.

Japenese Foreign Minister, Makio Miyagawa says, his nation has persuaded Pacific Rim trade ministers to reject a US proposal to cut tariffs in the region on a sector-by-sector basis.

Instead, the APEC forum will ask the WTO to consider a package deal of tariff reductions.

"The US asserted its views strongly but too many nations opposed them with our nation getting the majority support," Mr Miyagawa said.

Japan views this as a clear victory.

At last year's APEC summit in Kuala Lumpur, US Trade Representative, Charlene Barshefsky, lambasted Tokyo for blocking a nine-sector tariff reduction agreement by resisting the measure in forestry and fisheries.

This year, Washington has failed to get its way once again, finding that many other APEC members supported Japan's position. Japan got much of what we asserted, Mr Miyagawa said.

Looking ahead to the WTO talks, which are expected to last at least three years, Miyagawa said Japan will simply refuse during them to ever cut tariffs on forestry and fisheries.

Washington wants certain areas of trade opened up more quickly that others but Japan wants a wider package deal. The US approach would have left Japan vulnerable to tariff-reduction pressures on specific areas.

"A strong negotiating country can just pick and choose what it wants to negotiate, get the results and then just go away," Junichi Ihara, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said.


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