Japan and Europe reaffirmed their cooperation Thursday toward the upcoming trade liberalization talks under the World Trade Organization slated to begin later this month in Seattle. During their meeting here, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and European Commissioner for Trade Pascal Lamy reaffirmed that Japan and the European Union will closely coordinate their policies toward the upcoming WTO talks, a Foreign Ministry official said.
Lamy arrived in Japan on Thursday on a two-day stay to exchange views with Japanese officials on the next WTO round as the EU prepares for the Seattle meeting Nov. 30 through Dec. 3.
Obuchi was quoted as telling Lamy that Japan and the EU share the position that the next WTO round should take up all issues and sectors in one undertaking. Lamy responded by saying that the purpose of his visit to Japan this time was to clarify that the EU and Japan have similar stances toward the upcoming negotiations, the official said.
Japan and the EU have been calling for the so-called comprehensive approach, while the United States is concerned that doing so would prolong negotiations. It prefers to pursue and implement sector-by-sector solutions.
Later in the day, Lamy held talks with Foreign Minister Yohei Kono, during which they explored the issue of how to deal with the agricultural trade in the upcoming WTO round, the official said.
Japan is taking a tough stance that full-scale trade liberalization is unsuitable for the agricultural sector, saying it plays many roles in a culture and is not merely economic.
While expressing understanding of Japan’s position on agriculture, Lamy nonetheless underlined the need to establish a common base on which constructive negotiations will begin, the official said.
In a separate meeting the same day, however, Takashi Fukaya, minister for international trade and industry, conveyed Japanese concerns about the EU’s move toward stricter recycling regulations on electronic products.
The EU is trying to introduce a guideline for electronics manufacturers to prohibit the use of unrecyclable materials, such as lead, in their products.
In his 15-minute meeting with Lamy, Fukaya said Japan believes such a guideline could be tantamount to erecting trade barriers, according to a ministry official. Lamy did not give any specific response.
The two also exchanged opinions on issues such as the state of Japan’s economy and Tokyo’s ongoing regulatory reform efforts.
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