November 24, 2020
In the evening of November 23 (Mon.), 2020, a Ministerial Meeting of the Ottawa Group, consisting of like-mineded WTO member countries, including Japan, was held via video conference, and Mr. Nagasaka Yasumasa, State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, attended the meeting.
Overview of the meeting
Since its inauguration in 2018, bringing together like-minded WTO member countries* proactive in WTO reform under the leadership of Canada as the chair, the Ottawa Group has been holding a series of ministerial meetings for the purpose of promoting enhancement of the multilateral trading system.
This meeting was held via video conference and, as representatives of Japan, State Minister Nagasaka and Mr. Hanashi Yasuhiro, State Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Mr. Suzuki Hayato, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, attended the meeting.
At the meeting, participants exchanged views on: curbing of export control over medical supplies and agricultural products in response to the crisis caused by the novel coronavirus disease; negotiations on e-commerce and fisheries subsidies, which are the issues subject to the ongoing WTO negotiations; new future agendas which the WTO should tackle, e.g., trade and climate change; and other issues.
State Minister Nagasaka stated the following points.
1. Curbing of export control over medical supplies
- Advancing the enhancement of disciplines concerning export control is necessary in order to: prevent member countries all over the world from losing access to medical supplies and maintain and fortify supply chains thereof.
- Specifically, this action includes: revision of the existing measures, curbing of future-focused measures, thorough implementation of the WTO systems for reporting on unavoidable export control, explanations on consistency with the WTO Agreement, and imposition of measures for the period within three months in principle.
2. Enhancement of WTO negotiation functions
- As the novel coronavirus disease is causing crises, the importance of rulemaking for e-commerce is also growing, and as a co-convener, Japan will promote negotiations in order to achieve high-level results with more countries.
- As Japan has declared its achievement of carbon neutrality by 2050, it intends to proactively hold discussions with member countries on promotion of trading products contributing to environmental measures.
- Toward securing a level playing field, as the Trilateral Meeting of the Trade Ministers between Japan, the U.S. and the EU in January 2020 agreed on measures for enhancing the disciplines for industrial subsidies. Discussions should begin on this issue taking the opportunity of WTO meetings.
Division in Charge
Multilateral Trade System Department, Trade Policy Bureau