Japan trade minister: Doha conclusion would secure chance for growth
GENEVA -- Japanese trade minister Masayuki Naoshima told his World Trade Organization colleagues Tuesday that successfully concluding the body's stalled Doha Round of global trade liberalization talks would help create opportunities for sustainab...
GENEVA -- Japanese trade minister Masayuki Naoshima told his World Trade Organization colleagues Tuesday that successfully concluding the body's stalled Doha Round of global trade liberalization talks would help create opportunities for sustainable economic growth.
Naoshima, minister of economy, trade and industry, also proposed the WTO press for lib-eralizing trade in environment friendly products as soon as possible. Japan, widely seen as competitive in developing green technologies, "will cooperate with like-minded countries and prepare for discussions to achieve an early agreement," he said.
He delivered a speech at a ministerial meeting of the 153-member WTO that started Mon-day in Geneva, Switzerland.
"Japan needs to create new demand both inside and outside the country," the minister said, adding that Tokyo will seek an early conclusion to the eight-year old Doha negotiations aimed at enhancing international trade.
Japan last week urged a WTO panel to label hybrid vehicles and other energy-efficient products that emit less carbon dioxide as "environmental goods" which would be subject to negotiations for eliminating or lowering tariffs.
The WTO has discussed a possible free trade in environment friendly products under the Doha talks. But the debate is limited only to large industrial products such as wind-power generation facilities and never covers consumer products.
Japanese Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu also attended the meeting. He repeatedly said Japan will cooperate with other net food importers such as Switzerland and Norway in securing sufficient numbers of "sensitive products" that can be exempted from sharp farm tariff cuts.
Akamatsu was referring to agricultural products on which developed economies could im-pose high tariffs even after the liberalization of trade to prevent an influx of products from the developing world.
Japan has proposed that rich members be allowed to designate 8 percent of their total farm produce as sensitive products while the WTO's most recent proposal said the ratio must be 6 percent.
The Japanese farm ministry says it believes the most crucial issue to be addressed is whether the WTO can narrow the gap, before Tokyo can make a step forward toward a suc-cessful conclusion of the Doha Round, launched in the Qatari capital in 2001 and originally scheduled to be concluded in 2005.
Akamatsu met with David Walker of New Zealand, who chairs the WTO agriculture nego-tiations, on the sidelines of the three-day ministerial talks. The Japanese minister told re-porters after the meeting that Walker said he senses related parties are nearing an agree-ment over how to handle sensitive products and upper limits on farm tariffs.
"It is important that (we will have) conditions that both exporters and importers could be satisfied with," Akamatsu said.
WTO members now aim to conclude the Doha Round within next year.
The round is aimed at helping development in poor economies through enhancement of international trade. But the liberalization talks have seen no major progress since a minis-terial meeting collapsed in July last year due to conflicts between developing and developed members over how they can cut tariffs and export subsidies.