Japan sets new rules in SBS tenders to buy Australian rice

TOKYO, Nov. 19 ― The Japanese government is set to operate new administrative rules for the simultaneous buy and sell (SBS) tending system for imported rice from Australia through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without the U.S., also known as TPP-11.

The TPP-11 will come into force on Dec. 30 this year as Australia has become the sixth country to ratify the agreement.

The auction in the SBS tendering system for Australian rice will have six rounds in a fiscal year starting April 1. The first auction will take place in May, four months earlier than the existing SBS administrative rules.

“We fear that the new rules may lead to price declines and distribution curbs for domestic Japanese rice, because the first auction takes place prior to our autumn crop harvest,” some rice producers said.

The Japanese agriculture ministry regularly tenders for rice imports throughout each fiscal year, to fulfill the nation’s annual import commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Japan is obliged to buy 770,000 metric tons of foreign rice each year, and it uses two tendering systems – minimum access and the SBS.

The minimum access tenders account for the majority of Japan’s imports. These initially end up in government warehouses.

And up to 100,000 metric tons can be traded in the existing SBS system and passed to end users, which are largely in the food service sector. The ministry sets the volume for SBS tenders depending on domestic market conditions.

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