Japan to support WTO proposal to curb farming subsidies

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
WTO headquarters in Geneva

GENEVA (Jiji Press) — The government will support a proposal discussed at a World Trade Organization conference to curb agricultural and fishing subsidies, Arata Takebe, state minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, said Tuesday.

The proposal is part of a draft ministerial declaration thrashed out at the ongoing ministerial conference of the Geneva-based trade body, which started Sunday for a four-day run.

After attending Tuesday’s discussions, Takebe told reporters that the agriculture part of the draft declaration is not perfect but many say it can be supported in terms of continuing discussions toward the next ministerial conference to be held in about two years’ time.

The draft declaration calls on member economies to advance full-scale negotiations on the proposed reduction of domestic farming subsidies and reach a broad agreement on it at the next ministerial conference. As Japan subsidizes its farmers heavily, the country may be pressured to reduce the subsidies if an agreement is reached on the matter.

As for fisheries subsidies, the draft calls for banning in principle those that would lead to encouraging overfishing, while allowing as an exception the provision of such subsidies when accompanied with measures to conserve fishing resources.

“Japan is seeking cooperation from fishery operators in promoting adequate resource management,” Takebe said, suggesting that the country provides no subsidies that would be subject to the proposed ban.