In a joint statement from the Australian Prime Minister Hon Tony Abbott MP and Hon Andrew Robb AO MP, Minister for Trade and Investment, the Australian government said the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) was good for its economy, for jobs, farmers and consumers.
The new agreement follows the successful conclusion of a free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea, which was formally signed today, in Seoul.
The Australian government said the JAEPA should enable better access for key agricultural products, including beef, and would "give Australia a head start over our competitors in this market".
"JAEPA represents a major windfall for Australian beef – our biggest agricultural export to Japan, currently worth $1.4bn. This includes a halving of the tariff on frozen beef from 38.5% to 19.5%, with deep cuts in the first year," said the statement.
The tariff on fresh beef will be cut to 23.5% over a period of 15 years, while Japan’s imports of Australian beef offal, worth AU$153 million in 2013, will face reduced tariffs within a growing quota.
JAEPA will also see reduced tariffs on imports of Australian preserved and prepared beef - worth over AU$20 million in 2013.
In response to the announcement of the agreement, Bob McCan, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), said the NCBA was concerned it did not call for full tariff elimination.
"This bilateral agreement undermines the long-standing goals and principles that are the base of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This development only pushes the high-standing ideals of TPP further out of reach for all countries involved, and it is not a move that US beef producers can support."
Meanwhile, US association the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) called on Japan to eliminate all tariff and non-tariff barriers for US agricultural products as part of the ongoing TPP talks.
"In its FTA deal with Japan, Australia did not get tariff elimination on a number of important products, but a clause in the agreement requires the Japanese to provide the same access to Australia that it provides to other nations. Should the USA get better access to Japan in the TPP negotiations, Australia would get that same access," said the NPPC.