Japan has proposed setting low-tariff quotas for imports of butter and skim milk powder, under terms being thrashed out for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, negotiation sources said last week.
The proposal was made in response to strong calls from other members of the 12-nation TPP initiative, including major dairy exporter New Zealand, for the expansion of dairy imports.
Boosting dairy imports may help stem Japan’s prolonged shortage of butter, but Tokyo will carefully negotiate the details of the plan to avoid possible adverse effects on the domestic dairy industry, the sources added.
Currently, the government controls imports of butter and other dairy goods to prevent farmers from being affected by an influx of cheap foreign products. It levies a 35 percent tariff on butter.