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Korean Farm Community Face Bumpy Road Ahead

Posted September. 15, 2003 23:11,   


The World Trade Organization`s ministerial conference held in Cancun, Mexico fell apart without reaching an agreement on a framework for agricultural market openings and new trade orders, which were set out in the declaration of the 2001 WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar.

As a result of the collapse of the multilateral trade talks, Korea is expected to face rocky roads ahead when it holds separate negotiations with its trade partners over the domestic rice market opening due next year.

The five-day WTO meeting ended Sept 14(local time) without an agreement with which to proceed with the negotiations to conclude before the end of next year.

Luis Ernesto Derbez, Chairman of the Cancun talks, declared the collapse of the talks by saying, “The consensus was not there and that there was no way to build it due to some 78 member countries boycotting the Singapore issue among the DDA negotiation agenda.”

At a “green room” meeting, a privileged and exclusive meeting ground for delegations from 30 rich countries starting that day morning, members showed stark differences on the agricultural and the Singapore issues.

The ministerial conference in Cancun was supposed to end after adopting a declaration based on a draft put forward on the previous day and deciding the date and the venue of the next meeting.

During the WTO meeting, the Korean delegation confirmed that it is in a disadvantageous position when it comes to agricultural market opening negotiations. However, the end of the Cancun meeting does not mean that negotiations are over and the content of the initial proposal, which leaned strongly toward the interests of rich developed nations, will form the basis for future discussions.

Due to initiatives aimed at opening rice markets due next year, Korea will face difficult moments when it holds bilateral negotiations with some countries such as the US, China, and India on the issue.

Robert B. Zoellick, the United States trade representative, said that the US would push on rice market opening at bilateral negotiations, emerging from the talks.

Hwang Doo-yeon, head of trade relations division at the foreign affairs and trade ministry, said, “Collapse of multilateral frameworks for trade including the DDA negotiation will negatively affect Korea which heavily depends on exports.”

Although the world trade body said that it would finalize the DDA negotiation by the end of next year, it is unlikely to reach a conclusion by the deadline. The day before the end of the talks, members agreed agricultural market openings by drastically cutting tariffs on and government subsides for agricultural and non-agricultural goods being exported.

Eun-Woo Lee libra@donga.com