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Japan will send a senior vice farm minister to Geneva to directly tell the chairman of the World Trade Organization’s agricultural negotiations body of its support for recent European proposals, farm minister Tadamori Oshima said Tuesday.

Senior vice minister Toyoaki Ota is slated to meet Friday with Stuart Harbinson in an attempt to influence a first draft proposal Harbinson is expected to present before the Feb. 14-16 informal WTO ministerial meeting in Tokyo, Oshima told reporters.

Oshima last Friday said Japan supports the European proposals, including a cut in agricultural tariffs by an average 36 percent and a minimum 15 percent.

It was the first time Japan has clarified its position in terms of giving specific figures.

“We will need to convey our positions, including those on numbers, before the farm negotiations chairman presents his first draft proposal for the modalities of negotiations,” Oshima said.

The 144-member WTO set March 31 as the deadline for an accord on formulas and targets, or so-called modalities, for the member countries’ farm trade liberalization commitments as part of a trade round launched in November 2001 in Doha.

Earlier this month, the European Union adopted farm modality proposals that also include a conservative 55 percent cut in the value of domestic farm subsidies and a 45 percent decrease in export subsidies, compared with more drastic proposals made by the United States and the Cairns group of agricultural exporters.

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