Farm minister Tadamori Oshima said Monday he expects that a new global trade proposal will better favor Japanese interests.
The World Trade Organization has been bogged down on how to liberalize agricultural trade for three years now.
On one side, Japan and Europe hope to continue protecting their politically powerful farming sectors with high tariffs and subsidies. On the other, the U.S., Canada, Australia and many developing countries are calling for drastic reductions to these taxes.
“There are 75 nations with the same view as us — if we count individual nations of the European Union.” Oshima said at a session of the House of Councilors Budget Committee. “I am expecting no proposal to ignore this.”
Oshima, head of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said WTO member nations will not be able to reach an agreement on a proposal unless it is based on Japan’s position of high tariffs and subsidies.
Stuart Harbinson, who chairs the WTO agriculture negotiations, is expected to announce the second proposal on the framework of farm trade liberalization measures. Oshima said the paper could come out Tuesday.
The WTO has set a deadline of March 31 to establish the framework for farm trade liberalization. But that deadline is in jeopardy.
Harbinson presented the first proposal shortly before a Feb. 14-16 informal ministerial meeting in Tokyo.
That plan called for an average 60 percent cut in import tariffs on agricultural goods, while at the same time cutting back on subsidies to farmers.
But it drew criticism from both farm produce exporters, including the United States, for not going far enough, and from importers, including Japan, for going too far.
The global agricultural trade talks began in March 2000 and were incorporated into a new round of multilateral trade talks launched in Doha in November 2001, with an overall deadline of Jan. 1, 2005.
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