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Japan, U.S., EU agree to call for data protection with China in mind

  • January 11, 2019
  • , Asahi , p. 7
  • JMH Translation
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A trilateral trade ministers’ meeting among Japan, the U.S., and the EU was held in Washington on Jan. 9. The ministers agreed to enhance trilateral cooperation in urging China to follow trade rules. In order to beef up the protection of intellectual property and data, one of the factors behind trade conflicts between the U.S. and China, the representatives also decided that Japan, the U.S. and the EU will broadly call on countries around the world to develop rules on e-commerce late this month.


Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström attended the meeting. Bearing in mind China’s “non-market-oriented policies,” the representatives issued a joint statement, “The three parties agreed to repeatedly express concern and deepen cooperation.”


This is the fifth trilateral meeting. The three parties have focused on calling out China over its forcing foreign companies to transfer their technology to the PRC and distorting market competition by subsidizing state-owned enterprises. Henceforth protecting the security and freedom of “digital trade” involving e-commerce and other business activities will be a common task of Japan, the U.S. and the EU.


The U.S. is concerned that China steals the data and intellectual property of U.S. companies and Americans  through forced technology transfer and cyberattacks and is attempting to dominate the next generation of technology including AI. Such concern is the central point of contention in the U.S.-China trade conflict. An informal ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is slated for Davos, Switzerland, late this month. Japan, the U.S. and the EU will propose at the meeting that the WTO improve its rules on digital trade.


“We want to broadly appeal to various countries that value the unfettered dissemination (of data) while ensuring the protection of personal information and cybersecurity,” said Minister Seko at a press conference.

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