Japan is inclined to accept a proposed “tiered formula” for reducing tariffs on agricultural products as part of global trade liberalization under the World Trade Organization, government officials and ruling-party lawmakers said Tuesday.
The government will hear opinions on the formula from agricultural organizations Wednesday to work out an official bargaining stance on agricultural issues to be discussed at a meeting of the WTO General Council starting in Geneva on Tuesday, they said.
According to a draft text proposed Friday by WTO General Council Chairman Shotaro Oshima to produce a framework agreement on the Doha Round of global market-opening negotiations under the world trade body, the tiered formula calls for carrying out deeper tariff cuts for agricultural products whose domestic markets have been protected by high tariffs, such as Japan’s 490 percent tariff for rice.
The Group of 10 major food-importing countries have been calling for flexible treatment of sensitive farm products whose protection is vital to them. Japan, Switzerland are South Korea are among the group.
As the draft text pays heed to the 10 nations’ stance and includes a virtual delay in the introduction of maximum tariff rates for a range of farm products, which is opposed by Japan, Yoshiyuki Kamei, minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, told Tuesday’s news conference that the text is “an advance to some extent as it includes arguments of Japan and other G-10 nations.”
He said it is commendable for the text to have stopped short of demanding a “tariff cap” under the proposed tariff reduction formula with distinctive treatment for sensitive products.
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