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Tokyo-Beijing Trade Talks Fail - 2001-12-19


Trade talks between Tokyo and Beijing failed to reach a breakthrough, just two days before a deadline for Japan to decide on restricting imports of some Chinese agricultural products. A last-ditch meeting is planned to try to resolve the issue.

Japanese trade negotiators say that the talks did not resolve the dispute with China, but the two sides found some common ground. The two will talk again before Friday, the deadline for Japan to impose full import restrictions.

Talks between the two governments broke down in Beijing last week.

The Chinese are upset that Japan threatens to impose four-year curbs on imports of Chinese leeks, shiitake mushrooms and rushes used in straw matting. Under the so-called safeguard mechanism of the World Trade Organization, which China has just joined, a member country can curb imports for up to four years if it can show an import surge threatens its industries.

If Japan takes the matter to the WTO, it will be the first trade dispute involving China to be handled by the organization.

Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka said Wednesday that the country needs to take a harder line in such trade disputes to avoid being left behind by an emerging China.

China has previously denounced the Japanese trade restrictions as discriminatory. Japan imposed temporary curbs in April. Beijing responded by putting 100 percent tariffs on Japanese automobiles, cellular phone and air conditioners.

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