Japan offers to drop 92 percent of U.S. trade tariffs: Nikkei

Thu Oct 3, 2013 6:50pm EDT

A man rides a bicycle past containers at a port in Tokyo August 19, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

A man rides a bicycle past containers at a port in Tokyo August 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Toru Hanai

(Reuters) - Japan has proposed dropping more than 92 percent of its tariffs on U.S. trade, under Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations held last month, the Nikkei reported on Friday.

The offer was made late last month when the two countries exchanged proposals on tariff elimination for the first time in the talks, the daily said.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a free trade zone being negotiated by 12 nations -- the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Japan.

Under the offer made last month, Japan said it was willing to end 65.6 percent of tariffs immediately after the free trade pact is ratified and another 26.8 percent when certain conditions are met, the paper said.

The U.S. pushed for a higher rate, the Nikkei reported, quoting people familiar with the matter.

Until now, Japan has declared five categories of agricultural trade as off-limits, including rice, dairy products and sugar, which add up to 586 different items. Another 248 farm, fishery and forestry items have never been subject to tariff removal, the daily said.

Maintaining import duties on all 929 of these items, and dropping them on everything else would liberalize only 89.7 percent of trade, less than the 92.4 percent that Japan has offered, the Nikkei said.

The proposal suggests Japan is willing to make concessions on about 240 of the 929, potentially including low-volume items in the untouchable categories, the paper said.

(Reporting by Neha Alawadhi in Bangalore; Editing by Anthony Kurian)