biel2South Korea’s Minister of Agriculture. Food and Rural Affairs has clearly put forth the government’s stance to exclude rice from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, according to local sources.

He told local sources that the government has decided on excluding rice from the TPP’s list of tariff concessions. He was responding to reporters’ questions on whether South Korea would lower its barriers against rice imports in order to join the TPP. He hinted that the government would not bend to pressures on lowering its 513% tariff on rice imports or increasing the quota of tariff free rice imports from any particular country.

The South Korean government opened it rice market this January ending its 20-year import quota system. It decided to impose a 513% tariff on rice imports over and above its mandatory rice imports of 408,700 tons under the World Trade Organization (W[O) minimum market access (MMA) quota However, five rice-exporting nations including the U.S. and China have opposed South Korea’s stance at the WTO, demanding a cut in the tariff rate The Minister emphasized that the government would stick to its stance in order to protect the local rice sector. More imported rice at cheap prices is not in the interest of local rice farmers, he said.

The Minister noted that the government’s tariff calculation was in line with the WTO standards and only five of the 150 WTO members have been disagreeing to South Korea’s tariffs He reiterated that the government had abided to the WTO obligations all these years despite falling consumption

The TPP is also likely to include Japan, Malaysia, Chile , Mexico, Singapore, Newzealand, Canada, the US, Vietnam, Peru, Australia and Brunei