Japan frets over protectionist moves

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A government report expressed concerns on Tuesday over protectionist moves in global trade, alluding to the trade policies of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.

“The global economy is at a major turning point, with the World Trade Organization-based free trade system being challenged,” said the 2018 white paper on trade, which was submitted to the day’s Cabinet meeting by Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko.

In reference to the U.S.-China trade friction in the high-tech sector, the report said that “the importance of establishing free, fair and high-standard trade rules is growing.”

On U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, which Washington has imposed on national security grounds, the white paper said the Japanese government is seeking a full exemption for Japanese products.

“Japanese products do not have a negative impact on U.S. national security,” the report said. In fact, they “contribute to U.S. industries and employment,” it stressed.

The white paper predicted that the market size of cross-border e-commerce transactions is expected to expand to $994.0 billion in 2020, equivalent to around ¥110 trillion and more than quadruple the dollar amount in 2014, amid the growing presence of U.S. and Chinese technology giants.

The report expressed concerns over the Chinese government’s alleged forced transfer of data and technology targeting foreign businesses, criticizing the action as “digital protectionist moves.”

Also regarding China, which is wielding growing influence over global trade, the white paper warned that the country’s excess production of semiconductors, as well as steel, could become a new international problem.

China is actively creating new venture companies and developing new technologies, and the number of patent publications in the information technology field has increased, the report noted.

China’s international competitiveness could rise in the fields of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals as well, it said.

The white paper said that Japanese businesses are lagging behind U.S. and European companies in terms of expanding into China’s consumer spending-related service market, pointing to the need to support business partnerships between Japanese and Chinese companies.Speech

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