January 29, 2021
On the evening of January 29 (Fri.), 2021, a WTO Informal Ministerial Meeting chaired by Switzerland was held via video conference. Mr. Kajiyama Hiroshi, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, attended the meeting.
Overview of the meeting
This meeting brought together ministers responsible for trade from over 29 WTO members as well as representatives of the WTO Secretariat. As representatives of Japan, Minister Kajiyama, Mr. Motegi Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Nogami Kotaro, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, attended the meeting.
WTO Informal Ministerial Meetings are usually held to coincide with the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, every January. This year’s meeting was no different.
Participants held discussions on: [i] actions that the WTO should take by priority, including economic recovery after the COVID-19 crisis, in preparation for the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference scheduled to be held this year; and [ii] challenges in approaches to concluding negotiations on fisheries subsidies.
Concerning enhancement of the WTO’s negotiation functions, Minister Kajiyama stated the following points.
(1) Maintaining supply chains of medical supplies
Japan intends to continue discussions on such subjects as curbing export restriction measures in order to encourage the WTO to promptly achieve results.
(2) Updating WTO rules to become well suited to the new economic society
Japan declared its commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050. Discussions should be started on both tariff and non-tariff aspects in order to smoothly disseminate goods and technologies that contribute to decreasing greenhouse gas emissions at a global level.
In e-commerce negotiations, an agreement on high-level cross-border data flows is indispensable. Japan intends to steadily advance discussions as a co-convener.
(3) Securing a level playing field
Enhancement of disciplines on industrial subsidies is necessary in order to prevent government support measures from distorting markets in the post coronavirus era. Ministers responsible for trade in Japan, the United States and the European Union have been advancing discussions. Japan intends to promote discussions with other countries that are interested in this issue in the future.
Participating member countries (29 countries and regions as well as the WTO Secretariat)
Switzerland (chair), Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, the EU, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, the ROK, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the U.S., the Africa Group (Mauritius), the Least-developed Country (LDC) Group (Chad), the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group (Jamaica), and the WTO Secretariat
Division in Charge
Multilateral Trade System Department, Trade Policy Bureau