July 26, 2021
On the evening of July 22 (Thu.), 2021, a WTO-related (Ottawa Group) Ministerial Meeting, consisting of like-minded members, was held via video conference, and Mr. Sato Kei, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, attended the meeting.
1．Overview of the meeting
The Ottawa Group was inaugurated in 2018, bringing together like-minded WTO members* proactive in WTO reform under the leadership of Canada as its chair. Since the spread of COVID-19, the group has been continuously advancing discussions for the purpose of compiling proposals on approaches to securing members’ access to medical supplies.
Parliamentary Vice-Minister Sato, Mr. Shikata, Director General of the Economic Affairs Bureau of Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Ushikusa, Deputy Assistant Minister for International Affairs attended this meeting as representatives of Japan. Participants held discussions mainly on WTO reform with H.E. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the WTO, and United States Trade Representative Tai also joining the meeting.
Parliamentary Vice-Minister Sato made the following comments at the meeting.
- It is crucial to cooperate among the Ottawa Group members to deliver tangible results, as we have only 4 months left until the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12).
- Regarding notification reforms, Japan aims to reach an agreement, based on the joint proposal by Japan and others, in order to reinforce the monitoring function, one of the main pillars of the WTO. Support from the Ottawa group members will be essential to achieve this.
- Rulemaking after MC12 will likely be centered around the Joint Statement Initiatives. We would like to proceed the discussions on each JSI, including e-commerce, services domestic regulation and investment facilitation, while maintaining the principles of transparency, openness and inclusiveness towards all members.
- Japan hopes to agree on initiating discussions among like-minded members on measures addressing climate change at MC12.
- We would like to launch discussions on strengthening the discipline of subsidies in the WTO, too, in due course, to ensure a level playing field.
- A well-functioning dispute settlement process is indispensable to encourage negotiation and compliance to WTO rules. Japan is ready to discuss how we should approach systemic reform in a constructive manner.
- Japan welcomes the United States announcement to join the JSI on the domestic regulation of services. Cooperation with the United States to revitalize the WTO will be crucial.
Division in Charge
Multilateral Trade System Department, Trade Policy Bureau