• Kyodo News


Japan must be ready for possible trade conflicts over such policies as China’s plan to force some foreign-made information technology products to pass the country’s certification and the controversial “Buy American” provision by the United States, a government report said Wednesday.

The annual report, released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, stresses that the world has become inclined to protectionism amid the current economic slump, with some countries taking actions that contradict the principle of trade liberalization under the World Trade Organization.

The report cites a total of 118 policies and measures taken by other countries and regions. The number is up from 113 in last year’s report.

China says it plans to introduce a compulsory certification program in May next year for the public procurement of computer software that installs fire walls as well as some other IT security products.

The Chinese government says the policy is for its own national security and designed to prevent cyber terrorism through such means as computer viruses.

However, major economies including Japan, the United States and the European Union fear the program would enable Beijing to obtain otherwise secret information about those technology products.

Japan is likely to press China to drop the plan when economic ministers from the two countries hold a regular high-level meeting next month.

Protests have been also increasing toward the “Buy American” measures with U.S. President Barack Obama facing mounting pressure to retract them.

The measures came as part of the recent U.S. economic stimulus package, requiring any project funded by stimulus money to use only U.S.-made steel, iron and other products.

Facing criticism from its trading partners, the U.S. says the measures do not contravene existing U.S. trade agreements.

METI’s report says the government “will seek to address those issues through the WTO’s multilateral negotiation framework or in bilateral talks” with the countries concerned.

It identifies 15 priority issues, including Russia’s higher tariffs on auto imports and the European Union’s tariffs on some IT products that Japan believes should be tax-free. The number grew from nine in the 2008 report.

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