• The Associated Press


Japan will oppose a proposal to cut tariffs and expand import quotas at global trade talks next week, agriculture minister Yoshiyuki Kamei said Tuesday.

A draft of an agreement intended to form the basis of a global trade treaty by the end of 2004 will be presented to trade ministers from all 146 World Trade Organization member states when they convene Sept. 10 in Mexico.

But Kamei said the draft discriminates against countries like Japan that have to import most of their food supply.

“I intend to press strongly for revisions to this text,” Kamei told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo. “If things proceed as is, there will be great unfairness between importing and exporting countries.”

The United States and other exporters of farm goods want tariffs and farm subsidies reduced and access to other markets increased. But importers such as Japan think the calls for greater cuts and increased import quotas are too much.

Kamei said Japan supports the average 36 percent reduction that was agreed to in Uruguay during the last round of negotiations that finished in 1994, and opposes further tariff reductions.

“The new trade rules must take into consideration not just agricultural giants, like the United States and Europe, but agriculturally weak nations and developing nations,” Kamei said.

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