politics

U.S. hints at rice concession in Japan trade talks

23 Comments

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue suggested Tuesday the United States may make concessions in seeking greater access to Japan's rice market, during ongoing bilateral trade talks.

Calling rice a "a sort of a cultural issue in Japan," Perdue told reporters the product is an area in which the United States has not been "successful" as Washington and Tokyo work toward sealing a trade deal this month.

But he said any deal, for the most part, "gets us back on parity with our competitors," apparently referring to U.S. farmers being put at a disadvantage due to trade agreements Japan has signed with other countries, including the revised 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The United States had initially joined the TPP before pulling out in 2017, with President Donald Trump saying he preferred to forge bilateral trade agreements. He has also pushed for a deal to reduce the country's hefty trade deficit with Japan.

Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed a bilateral trade deal in principle on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in France, in August, and planned to step up work toward signing it on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly in New York later this month.

While details of the agreement are yet to be announced, Japan is expected to cut tariffs on U.S. farm products such as beef and pork to around the same levels as in the TPP.

Whether Japan will set a tariff-free import quota for U.S. rice has been one of the focal points of the talks, given it had agreed in the original TPP to incrementally raise such annual quotas to up to 70,000 tons over 13 years.

"I'm hopeful and optimistic" that Trump and Abe will reach an agreement on the occasion of the U.N gathering, Perdue said.

© KYODO

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23 Comments
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This is actually more of a political issue than a cultural one. Rice is a staple food in Japan. Millions of people eat rice every day here. It's a very important food source. If a foreign country came in with dirt cheap rice, tasty or not, someone is going to eat it. People can get used to it. Especially if you're poor and don't have much choice. And if it becomes popular, Japanese farmers may go out of business. That is the real problem. If imported food is so cheap that local farmers go out of business, Japan will have to rely on another country for it's food. That's a lot of political power. If American rice floods the market and the Japanese government does something that America or another country doesn't like, they could use rice (or food in general) as a bargaining chip. Of course, culture plays a role too. In general, the Japanese have a lot of pride in their culture and things made in Japan. Not everyone obviously, but national pride is strong here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It has taken Japan a long time to realise that you can't easily pull the wool over President Trumps eyes.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I will never buy American rice

Sure you will, it will just be used in things like rice crackers, rice flour, rice noodles, etc. Or it will be fed to animals.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Well considering how horrible American rice is, I’m glad they actually they pulled out of the TPP. Which means that Japan was not mandated to import American rice that many people in Japan (as well as other countries) so despise, as many commenters have pointed out.

And I’m not at all a fan of setting that tariff quota to the level of the TPP, because as other people pointed out also, wasn’t the whole point of pulling out of TPP was so we didn’t have to deal with all these damn quotas and stuff in the first place? And I fully support pulling out of the TPP by the way, and I’m so glad to hear that it got revised. Seriously, what a God awful trade deal!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Set the rice safety standards such that they don't include the source country and test for those standards. If American or Chinese or Thai or rice from anywhere else doesn't meet or exceed the standards, including Japanese grown rice, then reject it.

The standards need to be published and followed.

As long as it is safe, let it into the market. Japanese are free to buy what they want.

All sorts of rice is grown in the US. Long grain is the most popular there, but hardly the only type. Wild rice, which has a nutty flavor, is almost as popular.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

gokai_wo_manekuSep. 11  05:56 pm JST Isn't American rice long grain rice? In the US, I haven't seen short gain rice on sale. Would long grain rice cook in Japanese rice cookers?

California has thousands of acres in short, medium and long grain rice all seeded by airplane is less time than it takes Jiro to gas up the rice planter.

http://rice.ucanr.edu/About_California_Rice/

Where do you think the tens of thousands of Japanese restaurants in the U.S. and Canada get their rice?

Ex_ResToday  03:04 am JST @oyaytoi

Yes, O heard all the excuses too, but American rice maybe incompatible to Japanese rice cookers is the best ever.

Natsukahii! Harks back to the days when European ski imports were banned because Japanese snow is different and foreign beef imports were banned because the Japanese digestive tract is different.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This Perdue guy is out of his league and woefully unqualified to be in the position that he is in. Reference statements like this: Rice is "a sort of a cultural issue in Japan" . Just pathetic!! :(

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@oyaytoi

Yes, O heard all the excuses too, but American rice maybe incompatible to Japanese rice cookers is the best ever.

Many years ago, a Japanese friend invited me to spend weekend with some of his relatives in a small village in the countryside. (considered a village of poor farmers) I was astounded at the difference in living standards between city and rural.

A big house and two expensive cars, lots of land, even owned the village supermarket. The village seemed to be under their control, but they did look after the people who worked in the rice fields. He took them out at weekends on a bus, as well as arranging other social events. I suppose he was the local squire.

They were wonderful hosts and I treasure the memory of that weekend, and will always have great gratitude for their hospitality.

But I could see why they would be frightened by any outside competition regarding rice.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I will never buy American rice or cars and you can not make me! It is my hard earned money and the decision is mine alone!

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

When it comes to Japan’s excuses YuriOtani, we’ve heard it all before. There was Japan’s supposedly unique snow, an excuse trotted out to explain the low imports of Western made skis. We were also told that Japanese people had longer intestines, unsuitable for digesting US beef. Yucky rice and cars unable to be accommodated on Japanese roads, can be added to the list. Nine out of ten Japanese have never tasted cooked American rice, but they'll parrot the party line that it tastes bad because only a disloyal Japanese would do otherwise. The evidence is abundantly clear that the Japanese market is replete with invisible barriers engineered to deliberately exclude foreign cars and prevent them from competing head to head with those manufactured domestically. You can obfuscate and deny all you like, continue to rely on tired cliches about gas guzzling imports too large to be accommodated on the roads here. Such rot will eventually boomerang back on you when other countries get wise to the game. Or, you can grasp the mettle, draw a line under all that and embrace the level playing field.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The Japanese would never eat American rice. They literally use it as animal feed. They don't even like Chinese rice. Next they'll try to sell American sushi here. I could go for a California roll though...

Japanese would never eat American rice. Rather sweeping statement. Myself and quite a few of my Japanese friends eat it all the time, and like it.

And, guess what, we sometimes eat Chinese rice, and like it.

Well, to the point, tariffs on imported rice into Japan are far to high. The Japanese are generally speaking, intelligent people, with minds of their own their own (but sadly are often restrained from using their minds).

Let them (Japanese) decide what they want to buy. Let's all just be honest. The overpriced local rice in Japan and the high tariffs (along with the "culture bit") is just protectionism, nothing more.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I do not like American or foreign rice, yucky! Japanese people will not buy it for human consumption. oyatoi, American brand vehicles are too big!

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Japan could import カリフォルニア米 until it was coming out of its people’s ears. It would still hardly make a dent in the US’s lopsided trade with Japan. The elephant in the room is automobiles and automobile parts and Japan is loathe to talk about why they are such an outlier. Germany, a country synonymous with quality autos, imports 5x more than Japan. South Korea’s foreign car imports are only slightly less than that of Japan, for a population less than half that of Japan.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Isn't American rice long grain rice?

For export, they grow japonica short grain, the same as is used in Japan. There is not a huge taste difference from cheap Japanese rice, despite the comments above.

That said, I think it's almost criminal for California to grow rice for export. The only reason its price is competitive is because they are not paying a fair price for the water they use. Cheap water is a hidden subsidy, and an ecological disaster for California.

This should be an easy chip to trade away at the negotiating table for the US. It means a lot to Japan, and the USA is actually better off not farming as much rice.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The TPP was a bad deal, heck, even Hillary admitted that in the end. LOL

a bad deal yet America has basically signed up to a similar deal with Japan that Japan signed up with the other TPP members. Seems like America were the ones feeling disadvantaged by being out of the TPP, so why the need to pull out in the first place. From one bad deal to the next it would seem LOL

meanwhile that trade war with China see many of Americas farmers being disadvantaged to Sth American farmers taking all their market share.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What is American rice? Basmati and Jasmine are grown in US too by Wal-Mart (GV) and other brands (those are good). Is that American rice or just uncle Ben's minute rice?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Look on the bright side. We're getting koizumi jr atleast.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

now its "back on parity with our competitors" it has to play catch up in the market share its lost since not being apart of the TPP. Master negotiator indeed. LOL

The TPP was a bad deal, heck, even Hillary admitted that in the end. LOL

0 ( +4 / -4 )

"Isn't American rice long grain rice? In the US, I haven't seen short gain rice on sale. Would long grain rice cook in Japanese rice cookers?"

I'm Asian American and I don't (can't) even eat American Rice. The shape of rice doesn't matter but I know what you meant.

Asian rices are sold for higher price in the USA. When I was tight for cash, I tried American rice because it was dirt cheap. It will cook just fine with any types of rice cooker so that's no issue at all. Unfortunately, American/Mexican or "Western Rice" is too "dried" and tastes horrible. Very hard to chew & swallow because I can't stand the texture/taste. Never again!

I agree with another poster here that Japanese won't eat American rice.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Trump just can't lose! Gots Abe's ballz in a vice!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue "gets us back on parity with our competitors,"

now also confirmed by the US side, so basically Trump withdrew from the TPP decided it needed a separate FTA with Japan, only to be given almost the same conditions as the TPP members, now its "back on parity with our competitors" it has to play catch up in the market share its lost since not being apart of the TPP. Master negotiator indeed. LOL

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Isn't American rice long grain rice? In the US, I haven't seen short gain rice on sale. Would long grain rice cook in Japanese rice cookers?

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

The Japanese would never eat American rice. They literally use it as animal feed. They don't even like Chinese rice. Next they'll try to sell American sushi here. I could go for a California roll though...

0 ( +6 / -6 )

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