Trade ministers from Japan, the United States and the European Union pledged Tuesday to work together to deal with “non-market” practices to ensure fair competition, in a veiled reference to China’s excessive industrial subsidy policy.
Trade minister Koichi Hagiuda, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, in a joint statement issued after their virtual meeting, said they will focus on three tasks including identification of problems caused by such unfair practices.
The three ministers also “agreed to renew their trilateral partnership to address the global challenges posed by non-market policies and practices of third countries that undermine and negatively affect our workers and businesses,” according to the statement.
The ministers were initially supposed to meet face-to-face for the first time in nearly two years since January 2020 on the sidelines of a four-day ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization from Tuesday in Geneva.
But as the WTO gathering was indefinitely postponed due to the emergence of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, the trilateral talks were switched to a virtual format.
Hagiuda was quoted as saying at the outset of the meeting that maintaining and reinforcing multilateral trade systems with the WTO at its core are “indispensable” to deal with socioeconomic challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic, digitalization and climate change, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
The statement also said they aim to track down fields where “new tools” and “rules” need to be developed to address the unfair practices.
Japan, the United States and major European economies have repeatedly raised the issue of “market-distorting practices” at meetings of the Group of Seven nations and other multilateral talks.
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