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Negotiations On Rice Tariff Extension to Begin

Posted January. 20, 2004 23:20,   


In accordance with the Uruguay Round negotiations, the “Rice Renegotiation” with major rice importers, such as United States and China, that will deal with the extension of the rice tariff imposing period, has officially started.

On January 20, the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed the administrative council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that they would begin rice import negotiations.

Due to this measure, the WTO should notify its member nations of the intentions of Korea. The candidate nations that hope to participate in the negotiations have to inform WTO of their intent to participation.

In that regard, the bilateral negotiations that are scheduled to occur between Korea and the other participants will begin in earnest at the end of April. Of the major participants, the United States, China, Australia, and Thailand are expected to take part.

Taking into consideration that bilateral negotiations will require three months to finalize a final agreement, the talks should be wrapped up by September at the latest.

The Ministry of Agriculture plans to present its position at the negotiation table and focus on a period extension. But, since there is possibility of the participants suggesting “unreasonable requirements” as conditions of extending the period, the ministry is preparing a diversified negotiation strategy.

“In order to continue imposing tariffs on rice imports, we may be required to make an additional concession to the participants, such as increasing Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQ) in quantity,” said Lee Myung-soo, the chief of the international agriculture department of agriculture ministry.

As for the renegotiation of rice import tariffs, Korea has been allowed to postpone the tariff barrier removal of 1995 for another 10 years, as a substitute for its mandatory rice imports, on the condition of Minimum Market Access (MMA). Experts expect that unless Korea comes to terms with relevant countries by the end of this year, imports will be changed into tariff-free trade as long as Korea continues to be registered with the WTO.

Jin-Hup Song jinhup@donga.com