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Australia, Uruguay go to WTO over Japan rice tariffs.

GENEVA, March 19 Kyodo

Australia filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday about rice tariffs Japan plans to introduce April 1 to protect domestic farmers, saying they are too high, officials said.

Uruguay also filed a similar complaint with the WTO over Japan's rice tariffication plan.

Earlier Friday, Australian Trade Minister Tim Fischer said that while Australia was pleased with Japan's move to rice tariffication, the tariffs to be imposed by Japan on out-of-quota rice are too high.

Japan plans to slap a flat tariff of 351.17 yen per kilogram April 1 and reduce it to 341 yen per kilogram a year later in a move aimed at keeping the pace of growth in rice imports mandated under a 1993 trade agreement which committed it to set minimum- access levels and move toward a system of tariffication.

The Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the WTO's predecessor, obliged Japan to import 4% of its rice consumption in fiscal 1995 and to gradually increase the share over a six-year period until it reaches 8% in fiscal 2000.

But a switch to tariffs allows Japan to curb the rate of import growth from 0.8% to 0.4% in each of the final two years of the accord, meaning that Japan's foreign rice imports under the minimum-access framework will drop to 720,000 tons from the originally set 800,000 tons in fiscal 2000.

Japan notified the WTO of its plan to impose tariffs on rice imports Dec. 21.

''While supporting Japan's move to tariffy its rice market, we are far from satisfied with the level of the out-of-quota tariff, which amounts to about 390% for prime rice at current prices,'' Fishcer said.

The disputed tariffs, however, will not affect existing rice trade under minimum access arrangements between Australia and Japan, which currently amount to 606,400 tons and will grow to 644,300 tons
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Comment:Australia, Uruguay go to WTO over Japan rice tariffs.
Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Mar 22, 1999
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