The independent research, funded by Fonterra, was conducted by Professors Hugh Whittaker and Rob Scollay from The University of Auckland. They investigated the potential implications of the TPP on the Japanese agricultural sector, which is a proposed free trade agreement under negotiation between 12 countries including New Zealand and also Japan, who only joined earlier this year.
Professor Scollay said: “The Japanese agricultural sector faces a number of challenges. Many small-scale farms are uneconomic while the average age of Japanese farmers and the area of abandoned farmland are both increasing alarmingly.”
Meanwhile falling per capita consumption of Japanese farm products combined with large projected future falls in Japan’s population underline the need to transform Japan’s agriculture into a more competitive sector with export potential.
“Our research found that participation in TPP could actually be the trigger needed to revitalise and transform Japan’s agriculture into a more vibrant and productive sector with long-term growth potential.”
Economic modelling indicated that increased exposure to competition through participation in the TPP, and increases in the productivity of Japanese agriculture through reform, could play complementary roles in sustaining agriculture and the food processing industries in Japan.
Fonterra’s Director Policy and Advocacy, Sarah Paterson, said Fonterra’s intent in supporting the study was to provide a basis for constructive and informed discussion based on objective analysis.
“Importantly, the study highlights that Japan’s agricultural sector could be better off as a result of TPP. We also believe that reducing trade barriers not only benefits their agricultural sector but will have flow on effects to the end consumer as well, where they’ll be able to enjoy greater choice and more competitively priced food,” said Paterson.
To form their research findings, the Professors collaborated with agricultural experts based in Japan, met with a variety of New Zealand and Japanese companies in the sector and analysed data published by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries.