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U.S. rice group wants drastic market liberalization in Japan

Jiji PressCHICAGO (Jiji Press) — U.S. rice farmer group leader Elizabeth Ward has urged her country’s government to urgently start negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement with Japan to win drastic market liberalization measures for rice.

The USA Rice Federation wants to see far stronger market-opening measures under the proposed FTA both in quality and quantity than those that the United States won from Japan through Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, Ward, federation president and chief executive officer, said in a recent interview.

Under the TPP treaty signed last year, Japan promised to set a new rice import quota of 70,000 tons per year for the United States.

Many U.S. farm industry organizations backed the TPP. But the USA Rice Federation did not clearly say whether it supported the deal, as the federation was dissatisfied at Japanese market-opening measures for rice.

U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew his country from the regional free trade deal earlier this year.

In the interview, Ward said the federation’s long-term goal is to obtain free access to the Japanese rice market.

Rice produced in the United States is low-priced while it satisfies quality and food safety requirements no different from those in Japan, she added.

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