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U.S. Demands Access to Korean Retail Rice Market

Posted May. 07, 2004 21:50,   


The U.S. demanded practical access to the Korean rice market in bilateral talks on Korea’s rice market opening held on May 5 and 6, and Korea and the U.S. agreed to hold a second round of talks in June, according to the Korean delegation on May 6.

“The U.S. wanted practical and stable access of its rice to the Korean market,” said Lee Jae-gil of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the top diplomat for the Doha Development Agenda, in an interview with Korean reporters in Washington D.C.

“Practical and stable market access refers to the ability of the U.S. to stably export its rice to Korea at the present level,” he explained.

The Korean delegation stressed the importance of the rice industry, and emphasized the need to extend the grace period from imposing tariffs on rice imports to enhance the industry’s competitiveness and to protect local rice farmers.

This negotiation was held to discuss the extension of a grace period as a temporary 10-year grace period granted under the Uruguay Round agreement expires this year.

U.S. rice accounts for around 27 percent of Korea’s tariff-rate quota (TRQ). About 55,000 tons of rice out of total 205,000 tons were imported from the U.S. last year.

The U.S. has complained that U.S. rice has been used solely for processed products and has not been accessible to Korean consumers at retail stores.

Under the 1994 Uruguay Round agreement, South Korea was granted a grace period of 10 years from imposing tariffs on rice imports and has been mandated to import 1-4 percent of domestic rice consumption since 1995.

Korea has to negotiate with other parties to extend its right to bar most rice imports. If Korea extends the right, it has to make acceptable concessions to other negotiating countries.

Nine countries, including the U.S., China, Australia, Thailand, and Canada, have responded to South Korea’s open invitation to rice talks, but the schedule, with eight countries other than the U.S., has not been confirmed.

Soon-Taek Kwon maypole@donga.com