• Kyodo

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Japan’s imposition of emergency import curbs on three farm products mainly from China violates World Trade Organization rules, the official Xinhua News Agency has quoted a Chinese trade official as saying.

The official at the Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Ministry reportedly said the measure is “groundless and breaks WTO rules” and called on Japan to swiftly withdraw it to avoid bilateral trade friction, Xinhua said Tuesday.

On April 23, Japan imposed temporary curbs on imports of stone leeks, shiitake and tatami rushes, mostly from China.

The measure, which will remain in place for up to 200 days through Nov. 8, was taken under safeguard mechanisms of the WTO designed to slow imports to allow a specific industry to adjust to heightened competition from foreign suppliers.

China responded by imposing a 100 percent retaliatory tariff on imports of Japanese automobiles, mobile phones and air conditioners.

According to the Chinese official, Japan’s action contravenes WTO rules because it discriminates against China by choosing three products it mostly imports from that country.

The official said the slump experienced by Japanese producers of the three products stems from weakening competitiveness in the Japanese agricultural industry.

The official said Japan’s written request to China to voluntarily reduce imports also contravenes WTO rules.

The official noted that Japan, which is the biggest beneficiary of free trade, would hurt its global image and see a negative effect on its economy in the long term if the country were to shift to protectionism, Xinhua said.

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