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Japan will soon seek talks with China over Beijing’s decision to take retaliatory steps against Tokyo’s temporary import curbs on three farm products, Katsusada Hirose, vice minister for economy, trade and industry, said Thursday.

Hirose, however, did not specify when he will propose the talks.

Beijing announced this week a decision to impose special duties on automobiles, cellular phones and air conditioners imported from Japan.

Beijing has not yet disclosed details of the special duties such as tariff rates and timing.

If implemented, he said, the action would violate the trade agreement between Japan and China concluded in 1974, under which the two countries are required to give most-favored nation status to each other.

The move would would also run counter to the multilateral trade rules of the World Trade Organization, he added.

China’s decision came in response to Japan’s 200-day import curbs against three farm products — stone leeks, shiitake mushrooms and rushes used to make tatami.

The import restriction measures on the farm products began April 23.

China is reportedly demanding Japan lift the curbs, which it says discriminate against Chinese products.

Japan insists the import curbs were decided upon and imposed in accordance with WTO rules and do not discriminate against Chinese products.

JAMA concerned

The chairman of Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association on Thursday called for a quick resolution to the ongoing trade row with China, voicing concerns that Beijing may expand its planned retaliatory duties on imports from Japan.

Hiroshi Okuda, also chairman of Toyota Motor Corp., played down the impact of Beijing’s decision to impose special tariffs on vehicles from Japan, saying that the volume is relatively small.

But he said, “If the Chinese government sets an extremely high tariff rate or applies the retaliatory step to auto parts imports, it is going to be a major problem.”

Beijing said Monday that it will levy special duties on imports of automobiles, mobile phones and air conditioners from Japan. It is yet to reveal details of the move, such as the timing and the rate and scope of special duties.

The decision is in retaliation to Japan’s emergency import restrictions introduced in late April, targeting leeks, fresh shiitake and straw used in tatami mats, most of which come from China.

Speaking at a news conference, Okuda called on the Japanese government to settle the situation as quickly as possible through diplomatic channels, saying that it would be preferable for both governments to drop their decisions.

JAMA vice president Takao Suzuki said the industry group will closely watch the situation and the effect of the tariff, as business with China is important to local automakers.

Japanese carmakers shipped some 47,000 units to China last year, Suzuki said.

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