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Following are facts tied to Japan’s efforts to protect its rice market during World Trade Organization agricultural negotiations:

Japan imports 767,000 tons of rice annually, equivalent to 7.2 percent of domestic consumption between 1986 and 1988, under the “minimum access” import quota agreed to in the Uruguay Round.

In April 1999, it slapped a 490 percent tariff — equivalent to 341 yen per kilogram — on any rice imported beyond the quota.

It is estimated that a 45 percent reduction in the rice tariff would level the price gap between foreign and domestic rice, leaving prices to converge at around 260 yen to 360 yen per kilogram for wholesalers.

Japan has slashed trade-distorting domestic subsidies by transforming its support of rice prices to direct grants to growers. It pays no export subsidies.

Japan aims to raise its food self-sufficiency ratio to 45 percent by fiscal 2010. In fiscal 2001 this ratio stood at 40 percent, the lowest among major industrialized nations.

Japan is the world’s third-largest importer of farm produce and the largest net importer. It recorded a balance of $34.6 billion in 2000, more than triple that of Germany, which is the No. 2 net importer.

Japan’s farm produce imports in 2001 were worth 4.3 trillion yen. Some 36.9 percent of these imports came from the United States, 12.4 percent from China, 8.3 percent from Australia, 6.4 percent from Canada and 4.9 percent from Thailand.

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