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Japan’s preferential tariff treatment of imports from relatively rich countries and regions, including South Korea, should be gradually eliminated beginning in fiscal 1998, an advisory panel said in a report released Friday.

The report from the Customs Tariff Council submitted to Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka says the generalized system of preferences, or GSP, should be phased out for developing economies that have become “high-income countries” under World Bank standards. These nations are those with an annual per capita income of more than $9,386 as of calendar 1995, and Finance Ministry officials said five economies would meet this classification in fiscal 1998 — South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Caledonia.

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