Trade ministers from major industrialized democracies meeting this weekend in Osaka, western Japan, stressed the “fundamental need for fair competition in international trade relations” and “the importance of a free and fair trade system based on the rule of law.”
They “condemned Russia’s destruction of Ukrainian grain export infrastructure” after Moscow refused in July to renew an agreement that allowed Kiev to export grain critical to world food security.
The G7 ministers (France, Japan, United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom) also called for the “immediate repeal of all measures that unnecessarily restrict trade,” particularly on Japanese food imports, targeting Beijing and Moscow without naming them.
China and Russia recently suspended imports of Japanese seafood as water from the 2011 tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant (northeast Japan) was dumped into the sea by Tokyo.
“It is important that restrictions on the import of foodstuffs are based on scientific data” and in accordance with international rules, the G7 affirmed, while water discharges from Fukushima were checked by the International Water Agency Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
While the final declaration did not mention the Middle East, Japanese diplomatic chief Yoko Kamikawa, who co-chaired the meeting, announced during a press conference that he was also concerned that “uncertainties are increasing due to the recent situation in Israel.” and Palestine.
Discussions during the two-day summit generally focused on “economic coercion” and anti-competitive practices, whereby some countries use economic sanctions to pressure others, again implicitly to China.
“The challenge of this G7 is to show that trade is not the problem, but part of the solution,” French Foreign Minister Olivier Becht said, adding: “This is France’s deepest belief: our cap is sovereignty, not protectionism. The way to get there.”
The G7, which wants to reduce its reliance on imports, particularly from China and Russia, said it should “continue efforts to establish resilient and reliable supply chains for essential commodities such as critical minerals, semiconductors and batteries.”
The weekend’s discussions also focused on food security, climate change and reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Various bilateral meetings were held on the sidelines of the summit which invited third countries like Australia and India.
An agreement on the free flow of data between the European Union and Japan was announced on Saturday, and trade representatives from the European Union and Australia were expected to spend more than five years trying to finalize a free trade agreement in their boxes.
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