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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Korea, US Agree to Exclude Rice From FTA
South Korea and the United States have in principle agreed to exclude rice from their free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations, an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Sunday.

The provisional agreement was made during South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong’s visit to Washington last week, the official said. Rice is one of key sticky issues in the talks as farmers and civic groups have fiercely opposed the opening of the market.

``We have clearly stated that if the United States demands Korea to open the rice market, it would be a deal-breaker,’’ the official said. ``Both countries agreed to wrap up the negotiation in the eighth round by establishing conclusions in the remaining sectors with flexible attitudes.’’

The two countries begin their eighth round of FTA negotiation this Thursday in Seoul.

In return, Seoul is expected to accept a U.S. demand that it fully opens its door to U.S. beef.

Meanwhile, the ministry officially blamed a group of U.S. lawmakers for urging their president to push Korea to abolish its 8-percent tariff on U.S. automobiles, saying such an attempt could wreck the talks.

In a press release on Sunday, the ministry expressed regrets at that demand saying it was ``excessive and irrational’’ and ``damages the spirit of free trade.’’

``Though the letter reflects the opinions of only a fraction of U.S. politicians, it could be a deal-breaker if it affects the U.S. government’s policy in the FTA negotiations,’’ it said. ``It is damaging the fundamentals of free trade, and is suggesting a protective policy based on managed trade.’’

The 15 members of the U.S. Congress, including nine democrats and six republican, sent a letter to President George W. Bush last week, the ministry said. They demanded that South Korea should drop its 8-percent tariff on U.S. cars in return for the phased elimination of the 2.5 percent U.S. tariff on Korean cars.

Over the past few years, U.S. automakers and politicians have raised their voice over the bias of the Korea-U.S. car trade. According to the Korea Automobile Importers & Distributors Association ministry, imported cars accounted for only 4.15 percent, or 45,000 units, of the domestic market last year.

Complaints from Korean consumers also began to rise over the heavy tariff on foreign cars this year, after several news reports have revealed that Korean carmakers such as Hyundai are selling their products at higher prices in Korea where they have a virtual oligopoly.
MGR Archive 5.3.2007
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