7:40 AM Dec 10, 1993


Geneva 9 Dec (TWN) -- The problems of Japan and Korea over rice imports and the requirement of the agriculture text of the Uruguay Round accord for full tariffication and minimum access have been dealt with in special provisions in an annex to the new draft of the Agriculture accord.

Article 4.2 of the agreement, relating to market access, requires that "Members shall not maintain, resort to, or revert to any measures of the kind which have been required to be converted into ordinary customs duties, except as provided for in Art 5 and Annex 5".

A footnote makes clear that the measures to be converted into customs duties include quantitative import restrictions, variable import levies, minimum import prices, discretionary import licensing, non-tariff measures maintained through state trading enterprises, voluntary export restraints and similar border measures -- whether or not maintained under country-specific derogations of the GATT.

Measures maintained under balance of payments provisions or other general, non-agriculture specific provisions of the GATT or other multilateral trade agreements annexed to the MTO are excluded from this.

The annex 5 to take care of the problems of Japan and Korea which have agreed to tariffy and provide minimum access, but have sought longer time (some of the details for Korea and Japan are not yet announced officially and will be found only in their schedules) is couched in general terms, but the particulars make them country-specific.

For Japan to get the exemption from the Art 4.2 requirement of tariffication and access, it has to meet the following conditions:

* import comprised less than three percent of domestic consumption the designated products during the base period 1986-1988;

* no export subsidies had been provided during that period;

* there are effective production restrictions on the primary agricultural product;

* the products are specially designated (as ST-Annex 6) and specified in the country schedule

* the minimum access schedule is four percent of base period domestic consumption from the first year of the implementation of the Uruguay Round, and increased annually by 0.8 percent of domestic consumption.

Any continuation of this special right after the implementation period of the agriculture accord is to be determined as a part of the review to be undertaken about the agreement and the continuance of the agriculture reform programme.

If the special treatment is not to be continued, then the products have to be brought under the tariffication formula and the customs duties specified and bound in the country schedule with a stipulated 15 percent reduction provided in the agriculture accord.

The Korea formula -- applies to countries where the primary product is predominant staple in the traditional diet of a developing country member -- sets out the conditions for exemption from tariffication, and minimum access etc are:

* unspecified minimum access opportunities (to be incorporated in country schedule as an unspecified percentage of domestic consumption being negotiated, and for an annual percentage increase;

* Negotiations whether this treatment is to continue after ten years, is to begin and conclude before the end of the ten year period.