Business

Japanese and U.S. trade chiefs discuss WTO reform

JIJI

Trade minister Hiroshi Kajiyama and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer exchanged views Monday on reforming the World Trade Organization, which has become largely dysfunctional due to a shortage of members in its appellate body.

Meeting in Washington, the Japanese and U.S. trade chiefs also confirmed that the two countries will strengthen their partnership in establishing international rules in the digital field, in line with a bilateral digital trade agreement that came into force Jan. 1.

Kajiyama and Lighthizer discussed ways to review WTO rules in order to deal with “unfair trade practices,” with China apparently in mind. Such practices include providing favorable treatment to specific industries through subsidies.

The two ministers as well as the European Union trade chief will hold a meeting Tuesday aimed at warning China on the subsidy issue, which remains unsettled between Washington and Beijing.

Kajiyama also met with U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.

In view of the recent instability in the Middle East following tensions between the United States and Iran, Kajiyama and Brouillette agreed to deepen Japan-U.S. cooperation through multilateral frameworks such as the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies and the International Energy Agency.

They confirmed bilateral cooperation in the fields of liquefied natural gas and nuclear energy.

Kajiyama is making his first visit to the U.S. since becoming trade minister in October.