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Wednesday, 27 October 1993
Page: 2617


Senator GARETH EVANS —Yesterday Senator Cook was asked by Senator Brownhill about the inclusion of rice in Australian submissions on impediments to the Japanese market. With Senator Brownhill's very gracious consent, I seek leave to incorporate that answer in Hansard.

  Leave granted.

  The answer read as follows

Yesterday Senator Brownhill asked my colleague, the Minister for Trade a question concerning the inclusion of rice in Australian submissions on impediments to the Japanese market.

I note that the honourable Senator drew on a recent edition of my department's publication, "Asialine" as the source of his question.

"Asialine" is widely distributed through the Australian business community to generate greater public interest on trade issues with Asia.

The particular "Asialine" article reports on two Australian submissions to Japanese Government advisory bodies seeking changes to importing practices in Japan.

One of these—the submission to the Import Board sets out impediments to Australia's exports of agricultural products.

It was formally submitted to the Import Board by the Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan but was prepared in close cooperation with our Embassy in Tokyo, drawing on advice from Australian exporters.

The Import Board submission contains a section on impediments in the grains trade, and specifically rice.

  The submission notes that "Australia is continuing to press for the   abolition of quantitative restrictions (on grain imports) in the Uruguay Round negotiations".

The submission to the Office of the Trade Ombudsman (OTO) addresses standards and certification issues limiting the trade in Australian products.

In preparing this submission my department received input from a wide range of government and industry sources.

Since the difficulties confronting Australian rice exporters in the Japanese market are not based on Japanese standards or certification arrangements but rather on the provisions of Japan's Staple Food Law Australia's OTO submission did not include rice.

The government expects that the issues raised in both submissions will be addressed constructively by the Japanese advisory bodies and in ongoing consultations.

Indeed the "Asialine" article anticipates future submissions and invites Australian exporters to provide details of constraints on their trade for possible inclusion.

Australian ministers who are attending the Australia Japan Ministerial Committee meeting in Tokyo on 2 November will have an opportunity to raise rice import issues and other matters raised in the Import Board and OTO submissions with their Japanese counterparts.

You can be assured that the Australian Government is working closely with the Australian rice industry in seeking to break into the Japanese market.

With the backing of the industry, the government has insisted on the necessity of a Uruguay Round outcome involving comprehensive tariffication without exception including for Japan's rice sector.

In addressing the current shortfall in Japan, the government has pressed the Japanese government for equitable treatment for Australian suppliers and has joined with Australian industry representatives in meeting Japan's Food Agency to discuss Australia's supply capability.

In seeking to develop demand for imported rice, the government has worked closely with the Australian rice industry on its participation in trade promotion events in Japan.