Abe says OECD should promote fair international trade rules

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday called on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development to play a key role in promoting fair international trade rules, stressing the importance of creating a new economic order based on healthy competition.

Japan will accelerate efforts to conclude multinational free trade negotiations, including a deal with the European Union and a large-scale Pacific tariff-cutting pact, Abe said in a speech at a ministerial meeting of the OECD in Paris.

“Together with nations sharing basic views, I will create a big economic zone that ensures free competition under fair rules,” Abe said.

“More countries will want to participate (in the zone), but they would have to assent to the new economic order,” Abe added, apparently in a warning to nations such as China that are often accused of breaking international trade rules. “The OECD has a mission to disseminate fair rules to the world,” Abe said.

Japan is serving as chair of the OECD ministerial gathering through Wednesday, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of Tokyo joining the Paris-based club of 34 industrialized countries.

At the meeting, Abe — who has pledged to beat nearly two decades of deflation in Japan — also emphasized his determination to boost trade for the country’s economic growth.

Ongoing trade talks between Japan and the European Union “should be concluded as soon as possible,” said Abe, who is on a six-nation tour of Europe that began last week.

Japan and the 28-member European Union held their fifth round of trade talks last month, but they have announced no agreement on specific issues such as how to eliminate or reduce tariffs and other trade barriers.

Negotiations with the United States over the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral free trade initiative, meanwhile, are “in the final phase,” Abe said.

On Japan’s economy, Abe said it is “on the verge of escaping from deflation” on the back of his “Abenomics” policy mix, entailing aggressive monetary easing, massive fiscal spending and an economic growth strategy.

Abe said he will promise in the strategy, to be revised in June, that Japan will “spark a new industrial revolution” based on robots, proposing that robot technology be utilized not only in the manufacturing industry but also in nursing care and other service fields.

Touching on Japan’s first hike in the consumption tax in 17 years on April 1, aimed at covering swelling costs of social security as the country’s population grays, Abe said, “We will simultaneously achieve economic revitalization, fiscal rehabilitation and social security reform.”

“I won’t be afraid of reforms,” he said, reiterating the necessity of cutting Japan’s corporate tax rate to bolster investment in the nation and of changing the electric power system amid the prolonged halt of nuclear power plants following the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami.