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US, To Renegotiate Korean Rice Market Opening

Posted February. 19, 2004 22:26,   


In advance of April 20 at the earliest, the U.S. government may require Korea to start the renegotiation of the opening of Korea’s rice market. In accordance with this, the beginning of the renegotiation will occur in the first half of this year.

Under condition of anonymity, a source from the U.S. embassy in Korea held a press conference at its information service unit on February 19 and revealed that “[In accordance with the opening of the rice market] Although we are already aware of the existence of strong opposition to the opening in Korea, we hope that Korea will take the most flexible attitude.” This official added that “the U.S. government wants to move closer to the rice market and attach original labels on rice bags to sell.”

In case of the U.S. requiring renegotiation, it seems that the other countries such as China and Thailand, which are actively trying to make inroads into the Korean rice market, will also demand a renegotiation, creating a strong claim for the opening of the market.

In advance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has reported their intention of holding the renegotiation to the secretariat of the WTO on January 20, and is also required to decide the participating countries at the negotiation table within three months. It was the first time for the U.S. official to disclose their standpoint in regards to the renegotiation problem to the press in Korea.

In 1994’s Uruguay Round (UR) conference, Korea was allowed to postpone the market opening for 10 years. Within this year, the government was required to hold a convention with the relevant WTO member countries to decide whether or not it would open the rice market.

This official also predicted that the tardiness of Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) conclusion was brought about by the screen quarter system, and that additional progress on the treaty would not be possible if Korean government continues to look on it.

“Considering the fact that the number of audience goers who have watched the movie, Silmido has crossed the 10 million mark, and that the Korean director won a prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, I hope that the movie industry will recognize that they can survive without a screen quarter system,” remarked the official from US embassy, pointing out that “In the United States, there is no movie which attracts 20 percent of the whole population.”

He also disclosed that at the Korea-U.S. trade committee, which will be held starting February 25, the two-day schedule will deal with the standardization of WIPI, a platform of wireless internet technology, the subsidy supplied to the paper industry, and the taxation and customs problems imposed on U.S. cars in Korea.

But the renegotiation of the rice market opening and the ban on U.S. beef imports will not be discussed in the committee.

Ji-Wan Cha cha@donga.com