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Another 10 Years of Grace for Rice Tariffication

Posted December. 30, 2004 22:31,   


The grace period for rice tariffication will be extended for another 10 years, starting next year and lasting until 2014.

However, the price for this extension is that the current 215,000 tons (four percent of the average yearly consumed rice from 1988 through 1990) import quota will be increased to 408,700 tons (7.96 percent) by 2014. Among the import quota, 10 to 30 percent must be sold to consumers directly.

Tariffication opens the market by levying tariffs on imported goods, but Korea has been exceptionally suspended from this by the 1994 Uruguay Round Agreement until this year.

The government decided on the above rice tariffication extension details at a ministerial meeting on Thursday, December 30, announcing that a ratification procedure in the National Assembly will take place sometime in the first half of next year, and submitted the plans to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The submitted plans will be examined by WTO member countries for some three months, and after the National Assembly ratifies it, it will be effective immediately. The imported rice will be available to consumers as early as June of next year.

If not ratified, a “tariffication duty” arises according to WTO’s rules, and the rice market will be opened full-scale by levying high tariffs.

Agriculture Minister Huh Sang-man held a press conference at the Gwacheon Government Complex and said, “If tariffication is chosen, an increase in imported rice is inevitable no matter how good the results are from the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiation, and the results for the negotiation are uncertain at this point. Our decision was made reflecting all these concerns.”

The governmental delegation for rice talks agreed with the other negotiating countries that Korea holds the right to transfer to tariffication at anytime during the grace period and that there is to be no additional burden with it.

Minister Huh said, “There may be some objections from the member countries during WTO’s inspection, but we will talk over it during the inspection period. Additional issues with some of the negotiating countries will be settled by documented agreements.”

Ji-Wan Cha cha@donga.com