11 Apr 2014

All not lost over Australia and Japan trade deal

1:54 pm on 11 April 2014

Trade Minister Tim Groser says all is not lost in Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations despite Australia reaching a less than ambitious trade deal with Japan.

Australia's bilateral deal will lower Japan's tariffs on beef products over 18 years to about half of the 38.5 percent that is applied to exports from other countries.

Mr Groser said the United States would never accept a deal like that, and neither will New Zealand.

He said there is intense negotiation going on and he is confident a better deal can be reached with Japan.

Earlier, Auckland University Professor of Law Jane Kelsey said along with beef, it appears Japan has made concessions on five Australian products, including on cheese, frozen yoghurt and icecream.

She said Australia certainly was not acting in the ANZAC spirit when it made the deal.

Professor Kelsey said it will be hard for both the United States and New Zealand to get anything beneficial out of further talks with Japan, because of the Australian trade deal.

Australian farmers are disappointed with the new trade deal with Japan saying it falls short.

The National Farmers Federation said that while the agreement appeared to be positive for Australian beef and horticulture - other sectors like dairy, sugar, grains, pork and rice would see no improvement, or only very little improvement, in terms of market access.

The federation said Australian farmers needed more in terms of concessions from the Japanese and that trade agreements need to be comprehensive and lead to the total elimination of tariffs.