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Government Decided to Veto Draft of WTO Negotiations Mandates

Government Decided to Veto Draft of WTO Negotiations Mandates

Posted February. 13, 2003 22:53,   


The Korean government has decided to take aggressive measures in response to a draft made by Stuart Harbinson, chairman of the Special Session of the WTO Committee on Agriculture, which it sees shortchanges importers of agricultural products including South Korea.

Japan and the European Union are also opposed to the draft, while exporters such as the U.S. and Australia are against it, saying the range of opening stated in the draft is not enough. Therefore friction among nations surrounding the draft is expected.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry decided that the draft about parts of negotiating mandates of the "Doha Development Agenda (DDA)" is unfavorable to Korea and announced that it would resist strongly in consultation with Japan and the EU on Feb. 13.

After seeing that if Korea lost its status as a developing nation in this negotiation, it would suffer an enormous loss, the ministry added that it would do its best to persuade WTO members for their acknowledgement of Korea as a developing nation.

Local groups for farmers are strongly protesting.

The Korean Advanced Farmers Federation issued a statement, which says, "The draft reflected the stands of importers of agricultural products for the sake of formality. It substantially accepted most of what exporters want."

The group called on the government to desert the defensive attitude in the DDA agriculture negotiations and to establish a new strategy.

Six groups for farmers including Nonghyup decided to send a delegation of some 100 people to Tokyo, Japan, where an unofficial cabinet meeting of the WTO will be held on Feb. 15 in order to hold protest rallies. The meeting is scheduled to start on Feb. 14 and continue for three days.

Meanwhile, Japan and the EU said that the draft would wither the agriculture industry and contended that they could not accept it.

The Japanese minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Tadamori Ohshima, held a press conference in a hurry and said, "The reduction of tariffs stated in the draft is so big that Japan cannot accept it."

For their part, the US and Australia are arguing that the degree of the opening is insufficient, pressuring importers.

Earlier Mr. Harbinson announced the first draft about parts of the DDA agriculture negotiations mandates, which adopts the form of the Uruguay Round as importing nations asked, and at the same time states an average 60 % reduction in tariffs and up to 60 % decreases in subsidy on Feb 12 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Eun-Woo Lee Hun-Joo Cho libra@donga.com hanscho@donga.com