Tokyo, July 16 (Jiji Press) — A Japanese government report stressed on Tuesday the urgent need to create a new international order in trade to tackle a situation where concerns are growing over protectionism, apparently referring to U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” trade policy.
The 2019 white paper on trade called for a framework that would not isolate the United States, which has adopted an increasingly inward-looking trade strategy.
The report explained that the United States last year imposed additional tariffs on steel imports on national security grounds and slapped punitive duties on Chinese products.
The factors behind these moves are China’s policy to give preferential treatment to domestic companies and the U.S.-China competition for dominance in technology industries, said the white paper, which was submitted to the day’s cabinet meeting by Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko.
The report noted that skepticism about free trade and frustration over economic disparities are growing.
The World Trade Organization and other frameworks of international cooperation that are supposed to be applying a brake on the rise of protectionism have failed to sufficiently fulfill their functions, the white paper said.
As a specific example of such failure, the report explained that the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies did not express a commitment to fight protectionism at their summit meeting last year for the first time ever due to opposition from the United States.
The white paper highlighted the need to reform the WTO’s dispute settlement system and the Geneva-based trade watchdog’s monitoring functions.
It also stressed the importance of setting new rules for the protection of intellectual property rights and the creation of an environment for free data circulation amid the expansion of the borderless digital economy.
In addition, the report expressed hope that the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact and the Japan-European Union economic partnership agreement will help improve the business and investment environment of Japan.