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ERIA President Addresses G7 Trade Ministers Working Dinner

28 October 2023

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Sakai, 28 October 2023: The Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) President Professor Tetsuya Watanabe gave a presentation during the G7 Trade Ministers Meeting’s Working Dinner held in Sakai to G7 Ministers, outreach ministers, and other international organisations. The working dinner was moderated and led by Japan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoko Kamikawa. The focus of the meeting was on various priorities, including environmental issues, sustainable development, and the deliverables of MC13.

Prof Watanabe stressed the vital role of trade in addressing global challenges and advancing sustainable development. He highlighted how the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped supply chains, particularly in developing Asia. President Watanabe emphasized the significance of digitalization, which has the potential to improve efficiency, enhance production, and create value throughout supply chains.

A central point of President Watanabe's presentation was the importance of Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) in establishing a digital supply chain ecosystem. He advocated for flexibility in national strategies for digital economy development, provided they meet the criteria of economic justification, transparency, and freedom from hidden protectionism. He also noted disparities in the preparedness of companies in ASEAN for supply chain digitalization.

Prof Watanabe also reiterated that the current moratorium on customs duties on e-commerce transmissions, one of the issues being discussed in preparation for the World Trade Organisation's 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in February 2024 in Abu Dhabi , is important to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and the global supply chain. He reaffirmed ERIA’s commitment to supporting digital innovation and start-up ecosystems in Asia, and expressed a willingness to act as a bridge between the G7 and developing Asia.

Canada's Minister of Export Promotion, International Trade and Economic Development Mary Ng said the G7 countries are looking forward to evidence-based policy recommendations and studies by ERIA and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), especially in tackling key global issues such as the energy transition, critical minerals, trade, and food security. She reiterated that trade policies must encourage greater sustainability and inclusiveness, and that digital innovation is an important means of addressing global economic challenges.

United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai stressed the incorporation of environmental, social and governance (ESG) elements into every trade and global finance conversation as essential for resilience. In closing, Kamikawa emphasised the necessity for G7 member countries to work together and collaborate with private sectors and international organisations in addressing global trade challenges. She highlighted the importance of trade in tackling global challenges and promoting sustainable development, with a focus on digitalization, MSMEs, and the role of international research organizations like ERIA and OECD. It underscored the collective effort required to address pressing global issues and enhance the inclusiveness and sustainability of trade policies.

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