Vice farm minister Mamoru Ishihara said Monday he is opposed to the latest WTO proposal calling for an average cut of 54 percent in tariffs on farm goods and based on ideas put forward by the Group of 20, a coalition of developing-country exporters.

“I don’t think the G-20 proposal is of central importance because many nations that import agricultural products argue that they find it difficult to slash tariffs as called for by the G-20,” Ishihara said at a news conference.

The proposed tariff reduction lies in the midrange between the U.S. demand for even steeper cuts and the European Union, which has pressed for more modest reductions. The so-called Group of 10 comprising Japan and other major food importers has called for an even smaller cut than the EU.

Nevertheless, Ishihara praised a portion of the WTO document that took a cautious stance on the proposed imposition of tariff ceilings on farm products, citing possible harm to the trading system.

“The G-10’s opinions are reflected” in that part of the text, he said.

Meanwhile, WTO official Crawford Falconer, who presented the paper June 9 and chaired the special session on agriculture, said the demand by Japan and other countries that the share of priority items, including rice, be set at 15 percent of all agricultural products is unlikely to be accepted.

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