Statement by H.E. Ambassador Zhang Xiangchen of China at the 14th Trade Policy Review of Japan
Geneva, 6 July 2020
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me join others in congratulating Japan for carrying on with its 14th TPR during the global pandemic. Recalling the early days of the Covid-19 outbreak in China, both the Japanese government and its people were among the first to raise money and send medical supplies to help us in the fight against the virus. What touches us deeply is their words of encouragement: in Chinese山川异域，风月同天, meaning “although hills and rills set us apart, the moon and wind share our kind heart”, a quote from the poem written by Japanese Prince Nagaya in Mandarin 1,300 years ago for China’s eminent monk Jian Zhen. Today, I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank Japan for its kind support.
China and Japan share not only the cultural connections, but also a common understanding on the multilateral trading system. The interests of our two countries in trade are highly interlinked with a strong connection in the global supply chain. The close collaboration between the two has helped transform Asia to a global production hub, contributing significantly to regional growth and the prosperity. China has been Japan’s largest trading partner in the past 12 years and the bilateral trade each year is more than US$300 billion. Japan is also the one and only country with FDI in China of over US$100 billion.
There is no doubt that the growth of the two economies benefits a lot from the open and stable global supply chain. And the pandemic we face today does expose to some extent the vulnerability of the existing supply chain. We need improvement. However, arbitrary modification of the supply chain by providing enormous amount of subsidies is not only costly, but also contradicting basic economic logics. Not to mention its volatility and fragmentation as well as growing anti-globalization sentiments, which will inevitably stall the global economy recovery. In this regard, we would like to encourage members including Japan to act cautiously.
China commends Japan’s efforts in safeguarding and strengthening the multilateral trading system, including its leadership in E-commerce negotiations and active engagement in initiatives like Investment Facilitation for Development.
Having said that, I would also like to raise some concerns regarding Japan’s trade policies.
First, Japan’s restrictions on foreign investment in ICT sector, including additional approval requirement on the ground of national security, and blunt discrimination against certain companies by excluding them from participating in Japan’s 5G spectrum allocation and government procurement.
Second, Japan’s continued practice of export restrictions. The inclusion of Chinese companies and research institutions in its End User List subject to export control has damaged the trade ties between two countries and raise questions of Japan’s compliance with the WTO rules.
We would like to urge Japan to remove the above-mentioned restrictions.
Third, Japan’s high-level of protection in its agriculture sector. The average tariff rate for agricultural products remains high and the TRQ fill rates for certain products are still low. Considerable domestic supports could distort global food trade. We hope Japan could continue to pursue market-oriented reform on its agricultural policy.
No single economy can expect to be immune from the international public crisis in the time of globalization. Unilateralism and protectionism cannot save itself from the crisis, but rather help fuel it. We look forward to continued cooperation with Japan to advance the necessary WTO reform towards the right direction, by jointly resisting unilateralism and protectionism. Otherwise, what we might lose could be more than a cherry-blossom season.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.