A European Union proposal on farm trade liberalization talks “deserves discussion,” farm minister Tadamori Oshima said Tuesday, suggesting Japan’s willingness to work in concert with the EU.
Oshima said the EU shares a common basic notion on farm trade with Japan, especially in that both sides support the so-called Uruguay Round method for calculating tariffs.
He was referring to a proposal adopted by EU foreign ministers Monday concerning farm trade liberalization talks by World Trade Organization member states.
Japan will act “toward establishing a realistic negotiation framework, and our basic stance will be one that is aimed at formulating a sizable force, with nations such as the EU (member states), which make arguments similar to ours,” Oshima said during a news conference.
WTO member states have set a March 31 deadline for an accord on the framework of their new farm trade liberalization commitments.
But the farm trade talks, part of a new round of multilateral trade negotiations, have become deadlocked due to conflicts between major importers of farm products, including Japan, and exporters, including the United States and the Australian-led Cairns group.
The U.S. and the Cairns group support a new tariff method known as the Swiss formula, which aims to put a uniform 25 percent cap on all farm import tariffs.
But Japan and the EU are calling for the Uruguay Round method, which first sets the lowest tariff reduction rate before determining an average tariff reduction rate for all items. This formula enables importing countries to maintain high tariffs on certain imports, including rice in Japan’s case.
The WTO is scheduled to hold farm liberalization negotiations from Feb. 24 to 28.
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