« WTO negociations : It is absolutely necessary to treat agricultural and industrial products differently »
WOAgri would like to thank His Excellency Mr.
Hiroshi Hirabayashi , Ambassador of Japan, for agreeing to an interview on the current WTO negotiations on agriculture.
Indeed, Japan and Europe share the same point of view and believe that agriculture is a specific and strategic activity for each country.
Therefore, agriculture should be treated according to the multiple economic, socio-environmental, and energy factors, as well as the different production conditions, in each country!
1. Mr. Ambassador, you recently declared that Japan and Europe shared the same analysis concerning the state of the WTO negotiations.
On which points do they agree? How would you describe their common philosophy ?
We think that in order to ensure development of the world economy it is important, on the one hand, to build an open trade system, but it is equally vital to sufficiently take into account the multiple functions fulfilled by the different agricultures of each country.
The European Union also fully shares this philosophy. Moreover, Japan and Europe agree on the fact that the results of this round of negotiations should form a set of realistic and balanced measures.
2. What impact would total liberalization of agricultural markets have on Japan and the rest of the world ?
As far as agricultural markets are concerned, each country, including Japan, is reforming its own agricultural policy, however it is feared that a radical improvement in market access could disturb the normal implementation of these reforms.
Furthermore, we think it is also possible that this could influence the maintenance of a certain national production level that is necessary in order to protect the multifunctionality of agriculture and food security .
3. How, concretely, can agricultural and industrial products be treated differently ?
Agricultural and industrial products have their own specific industrial structures and customs negotiations. Moreover, in agriculture there is the aspect of multifunctionality which is why we think that it is absolutely necessary to treat these two types of products differently.
4. In December 2005 the negotiations dealt mostly with export subsidies. It is said that the upcoming talks will tackle the question of market access, particularly concerning Japan. Can you tell us what Japan’s official position will be ?
Concerning market access, in the framework agreement of July 2004 concerning ordinary products, the participants reached an agreement on a more significant reduction of tariffs for products that have the highest customs duties.
And currently, for example, there is a proposal to reduce these high tariffs by 45%.
Furthermore, we propose that a sufficient number of sensitive products be treated and in a flexible manner. And we insist that a proposal, such as a ceiling for tariffs that does not take into account the differences in production conditions in each country, is unfair .
Japanese Ambassador to France