Japan, Mexico Unlikely To Sign Free Trade Agreement This Year Due To Dispute Over Pork

JAPAN - With Japan and Mexico still far apart over tariffs on orange juice and pork, the two nations are unlikely to meet their goal of signing a free trade agreement by the end of the year, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported Friday.
calendar icon 21 November 2003
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Some government officials are already discussing the possibility of extending the signing deadline to next March. The two nations are scheduled to hold working-level talks next week, but pessimism is prevailing in both governments.

Many ruling coalition lawmakers are critical of an offer made at an October minister-level meeting to set a low-tariff import allowance for pork.

"I cannot explain this to farmers in my constituency," said a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker at a Thursday meeting among party members with strong ties to the agricultural industry.

But Mexico made even tougher demands at a vice-minister-level meeting earlier this month, seeking tariff-free import quotas for orange juice and pork.

Mexico also seems to be growing disappointed with what it sees as Japan's reluctance to compromise. A Mexican negotiator has reportedly told his Japanese counterpart that signing an agreement within the year would be difficult, and that allowing another six months would be realistic.

Source: eFeedLink - 21st November 2003

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