Developing Countries Will Lead Global Rice Import Growth in 2013-22, Says USDA Rice growers positive California MG prices are UP Russia MG Harvest coming to end Egypt open rice exports Vietnam’s rice export in tough competition with India Thai rice exports in May Rise Above Target This Year Viet-Nam Rice exports likely to fall this year
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S Korean Govt To Settle Outstanding Rice Issues With China
South Korea will make a last effort to resolve outstanding issues with China on rice issues before it decides what steps to take on rice import policies, the Agriculture Ministry said Thursday.
It said working-level talks, scheduled for Friday in Beijing, will effectively be the last ones on the matter before the country announces the results of its negotiations with other World Trade Organization members later this month.
Seoul is currently engaged in negotiations with the United States, China, Thailand and Australia, which have exported rice to the country in the past, as well as India, Pakistan, Argentina and Egypt, that may want to do so in the future. Canada is also a negotiation partner but does not grow rice. Under a 1994 agreement at the Uruguay Round talks, South Korea was given the right to limit rice imports to 4 per cent of total domestic consumption for 10 years. The country is required to conclude a settlement that will either retain its import quota at the expense of more mandatory imports or adopt a tariff system from 2005. If no deal is struck, the country will have to accept a tariff system that may run into opposition from farmers. Ambassador Lee Jae-gil, Seoul's top diplomat for the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations, said nothing concrete can be divulged about Friday's talks, but acknowledged that the six previous talks with China have not made the kind of progress that South Korea expected. "Some key countries are asking for the tariff rate quota (TRQ) to be raised to 8.9 per cent, and demanding 75 per cent of the amount to be released to consumers by 2014," Lee said. He added that the duration of the tariff waiver was a matter of dispute with some countries, which are opposed to giving Seoul the 10 years it is requesting. "We will do our utmost to push our position at the upcoming talks but I cannot say for certain what the outcome will be," the diplomat said. Seoul's TRQ for this year is 4 per cent or 205,000 tons. A TRQ of 8.9 per cent will translate into 455,000 tons. Other experts involved in the talks hinted that China was one of the toughest negotiating partners, making demands that were holding up a settlement. Issues such as the size of minimum market access, or the amount of imported rice that must be sold to consumers, have complicated the talks. These matters are also the main concerns of domestic farmers. "China believes it has the most to gain if the South Korean market is open, and barring a switch to a tariff system, it wants to be assured of a large part of the market through TRQ," said a government expert following the negotiations. Currently, 56 per cent of the rice imported by South Korea is from China, with negotiators saying that an increase of the Chinese share would run into opposition from other countries. The expert, who did not want to be identified, said other countries have generally agreed to a TRQ of 8 per cent, another full 10 years of tariff waivers and a lower percentage of rice that needs to be sold directly to consumers. Think tanks here said that with China running up a huge trade deficit with South Korea, the country may think rice exports will be able to offset the trend to a certain extent. The rice grown in the northern part of China is of the Japonica variety, with the country enjoying a considerable advantage over its rivals in terms of quality and price. Chinese rice trades at US$410 per ton, which when calculated in won means 36,000 won (US$33.3) per a 80-kilogram sack or "gama" in Korean. This is far lower than the 170,000 won for a gama of rice at the production level. "The Chinese have also started producing eco-friendly rice from the 1990s and believe that even if South Korea opts for a tariff system and slaps more than 400 per cent duties, its best-quality rice will cost about the same as good-quality South Korean rice," said an Agriculture Ministry official. In addition to the negotiations with China, South Korean representatives will meet with U.S. officials next Wednesday to discuss the rice liberalization issue. Officials here have not mentioned the agenda of the talks, but some private observers have speculated that Seoul may try to ask Washington to allow the resale of imported rice to North Korea that will solve problems with storage and stocks as well as help South-North relations. Countries engaged in the rice talks have balked at the notion of reselling or transferring rice that Seoul has bought through TRQ to North Korea, claiming such rice will be subtracted from the country's allocated quota.
MGR Archive 19.11.2004
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