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METI Minister Seko Visits the United States and Spain

October 1, 2018

From September 24 (Mon.) to 29 (Sat.), 2018, Mr. Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, visited the United States and the Kingdom of Spain. In the United States, he held the Fourth Trilateral Meeting of the Trade Ministers in New York City with H.E. Dr. Robert E. Lighthizer, United States Trade Representative, and H.E. Dr. Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade, and held individual meetings in Washington, D.C. with H.E. Mr. Wilbur Ross, United States Secretary of Commerce, and other officials. In Spain, he visited Madrid, toured facilities related to renewable energy and held respective meetings with H.E. Ms. Nadía Calviño Santamaría, Minister of Economy and Business, Spain, and other officials.

1. Fourth Trilateral Meeting of Trade Ministers (September 25; New York City, the United States)

Minister Seko, the chair of the meeting, Ambassador Lighthizer and Commissioner Malmstrom held the Fourth Trilateral Meeting of Trade Ministers.

In light of the agreement reached in the previous meeting, the Ministers recognized the progress of the efforts for enhancing the rules on industrial subsidies and agreed to advance their respective internal steps for starting negotiations before the end of 2018. Moreover, concerning the forced technology transfer and market-oriented conditions, they agreed to exchange information, such as analyses of market-distorting measures by third countries and to deepen discussions on utilization of the rules (enforcement) and new rule-making.

Furthermore, concerning WTO reform, the Ministers shared the basic stance that like-minded members should initiate discussions from the issues that are ready to be discussed, and they agreed as a first step to co-sponsor a transparency and notification proposal and promote the strengthening of regular committee activities. Moreover, the Ministers agreed on digital trade, investment control, export credits and cooperation at multilateral fora, such as G20 meetings.

Minister Seko also held bilateral meetings with both Commissioner Malmstrom and Ambassador Lighthizer, prior to the Fourth Trilateral Meeting of Trade Ministers.

2. Meeting with Secretary Ross (September 26; Washington, D.C., the United States)

Both sides exchanged views concerning Japan-US cooperation in promoting investment and enhancement of Japan-US economic ties, including cooperation in exports of energy and infrastructures to third countries, placing an eye on the Indo-Pacific region. In addition, concerning U.S. measures under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, Minister Seko pressed the Secretary on Japan's requests related to the additional import duties on steel and aluminum under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (i.e. the requests for an exception of Japanese products from and prompt examination of product exclusion requests), and also stressed his anxiety on imposing additional duties on automobiles and auto-parts.

3. Meeting with H.E. Mr. Orrin G. Hatch, Chairman, Senate Finance Committee (September 26; Washington, D.C., the United States)

Both sides engaged in discussion on fortification of Japan-US cooperation, including cooperation in exports of energy and infrastructures to third countries. Minister Seko communicated the actual situation concerning the U.S. measures under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, including the contributions that Japan’s investment in the United States has made to the US economy and his anxiety on trade measures under the Act.

4. Visiting a base of the Cove Point LNG project (September 26; Washington, D.C., the United States)

Accompanying senior officials of the U.S. Department of Energy, Minister Seko visited a base of the Cove Point LNG project in the State of Maryland. Since May of 2018, Japan has been importing US-originated LNG derived from shale gas under long-term contract--the first such long-term contract between Japan and the United States in the field of LNG. During this visit, Minister Seko confirmed that the base is a core for both developing markets to- and securing energy security in the Indo-Pacific region, through the Japan-US collaboration.

5. Meeting with Minister Calvino (September 27; Madrid, Spain)

Both sides exchanged views concerning: respective efforts for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and digital policies, the current trade situations, measures for supporting startups, and other issues.

6. Visiting Iberdrola S.A. (September 27; Toledo, Spain)

Minister Seko visited the Toledo Renewable Energy Operations Centre of Iberdrola S.A. in the suburbs of Madrid. The company integrally controls their renewable energy-based power generation facilities (e.g., wind power) in Spain and Latin America. Both sides exchanged frank views concerning challenges in the introduction and expansion of renewable energy, such as secured capacity for electricity adjustments and cost reductions.

7. Visiting Red Electrica de Espana (REE) (September 28; Madrid, Spain)

Minister Seko visited the REE Control Centre of Renewable Energies. The center is a facility that monitors the electricity output derived from renewable energy across Spain and adjusts and controls the supply-demand balance of electricity. Both sides exchanged views concerning challenges in the introduction and expansion of renewable energy, such as overcoming of restrictions imposed on power grids.

8. Meeting with H.E. Ms. Maria Reyes Maroto Illera, Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism (September 28; Madrid, Spain)

Both sides exchanged views concerning the early enforcement of the Japan-EU EPA, the current trade situations and other issues, and held discussions on measures for promoting trade and investment between Japan and Spain.

9. Meeting with H.E. Mr. Jose Dominguez Abascal, Secretary of State for Energy (September 28; Madrid, Spain)

Both sides exchanged views concerning the current situations of renewable energy in Japan and Spain, relevant future challenges and other issues. Through the meeting, Minister Seko received many suggestions concerning the development of renewable energy in Japan, including during the visits to the facilities related to renewable energy mentioned above.

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