Trade ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) nations on Sunday called for the “immediate repeal” of import bans on Japanese food products and pushed for a reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The G7 trade ministers issued a joint statement after a meeting in Osaka, Japan, on Oct. 29, pledging to maintain “a free and fair trading system” and enhance “economic resilience and economic security.”
“We deplore actions to weaponize economic dependencies and commit to build on free, fair, and mutually beneficial economic and trade relationships and accelerate such collaboration with the wider international community,” the statement reads.
The G7 nations—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States—emphasized the importance of import curbs on food products being science-based and compliant with WTO.
They strongly called for “the immediate repeal of any such measures that unnecessarily restrict trade, including import restrictions on Japanese food products,” according to the statement.
The statement seemingly referred to China, which imposed a total ban on the imports of Japanese aquatic products after it began releasing treated wastewater from the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant.
The G7 ministers also pushed for the reform of WTO “that serves the interests of all members” and to strengthen “a rules-based, inclusive, free and fair multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its core.”
“We will work toward substantial WTO reform, including conducting discussions with the view to having a fully and well-functioning dispute settlement (DS) system accessible to all members by 2024,” they stated.
The ministers also expressed concern over the recent export control measures on critical minerals. This came as China, the world’s top graphite producer, announced on Oct. 20 export curbs on the key material used in electric vehicle batteries.
Beijing responded by urging the G7 nations “not to stubbornly adhere to double standards” but to “take practical actions to maintain normal international trade and investment order.”
WTO Calls For China-Japan Dialogue
In an interview with Nikkei Asia on Oct. 30, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said she encourages China and Japan to engage in “good people-to-people dialogue” regarding the import ban on Japanese seafood.
Ms. Okonjo-Iweala also acknowledged the claims made by some WTO members that China was not complying with the free-trade commitments it made upon joining the WTO.
“The U.S. and many other members complain about the issue of industrial subsidies in China, and they feel that maybe China is not notifying to the WTO,” she told the news outlet.
“But equally China also complains about the agricultural subsidies of the other members.”
Japan filed a formal complaint with the WTO against China’s ban on Japanese seafood in September. The country argued that its standard for the release of tritium, which is less than 22 trillion becquerels per year, is lower than those released by China’s nuclear reactors.
The Japanese government also argued that China’s implementation of the measure was not based on scientific principles and urged to repeal the measures.
On Oct. 23, Ms. Okonjo-Iweala signed with Beijing the renewal of the Least-Developed Countries and Accessions Program, also known as the China Program, in which China pledged to commit $450,000 to the program.
Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Li Fei said in a statement that China had funded the program “for 12 consecutive years” to help least-developed countries to participate in the multilateral trading system.
Reuters contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times