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ERIA President Attends the G7 Trade Ministers Outreach Meeting in Osaka

28 October 2023

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Osaka, 28 October 2023: Prof Tetsuya Watanabe attended the Outreach Meeting of the G7 Trade Ministers in Osaka, which was convened as a follow-up action on the G7 Leaders’ Hiroshima Communique, where leaders agreed to continue honouring the foundational principles of free and fair trade and the objectives of the rules-based multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core. These principles are essential for creating resilient global supply chains that are transparent, diversified, secure, sustainable, trustworthy, reliable, and fair for all, responsive to the needs of global citizens. G7 Leaders affirmed their commitment to continue working with non-G7 partners, especially developing countries, which play an integral role in supply chains and the global trading system.

To achieve these objectives for resilient and trustworthy supply chains and to prepare for a successful MC13, an Outreach Meeting of G7 and selected non-G7 member countries (Australia, Chile, India, Indonesia, and Kenya) was organised in Osaka on 28-29 October 2023. Three International Organisations, namely WTO, OECD, and ERIA were also invited to this high-level meeting. Prof Watanabe participated in two sessions of the Outreach Meeting.

The afternoon session on enhancing supply chain resilience was attended by G7 members, invited non-G7 countries, ERIA, OECD, WTO, and business leaders whose companies participate in the supply chains of critical minerals and energy. The central question for the session was: How can G7 members and partner countries work together with the private sector to implement the principles of resilient and reliable supply chains, achieve inclusive growth, and how can International Organizations contribute to this goal?

ERIA President’s intervention underlined the value of developing Asia in enhancing resilient and trustworthy supply chains. He cited the examples from ASEAN and India to underscore the importance of like-minded and rapidly growing economies that also support the rules-based trading system. He also highlighted ERIA’s role in facilitating the connection between G7 and developing Asia, and indeed the entire global south, in enhancing resilient and reliable supply chains. The full text of his intervention is available here.

In the Working Dinner Session, the guiding questions were: What are the priorities to ensure that trade and trade policies contribute effectively to addressing global challenges (e.g., environmental issues including climate change, enhancing food security, digital trade), realising sustainable development, and enhancing inclusivity? And, (2) What realistic outcomes can MC13 deliver from this perspective?

The WTO head led the discussions, expressing hope that members would continue to work toward consensus on outstanding issues before MC13, especially those related to the digital economy. Several G7 members observed that discussions in the WTO should refocus on agriculture. The USTR suggested scaling up successful examples in the WTO, such as the consensus on TRIPS for vaccine manufacturing during the pandemic. Prof Watanabe underscored the complexity of supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, which led the countries to restructure their supply chains. He stressed the role of digitalisation in optimising production and efficiency, unlocking greater value across supply chains. Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) would be at the heart of a digital supply chain ecosystem in which developing countries would have the flexibility to set national strategies for digital economy development, provided that policies are economically justified, transparent, and free from hidden protectionism. The full text of the intervention is available here.

Prof Watanabe introduced ERIA’s new Centre for Digital Innovation and Sustainable Economy Centre (E-DISC)  to the meeting.

On the sidelines of the Outreach Meeting, Prof Watanabe had a bilateral meeting with Canada's Minister of Export Promotion, International Trade, and Economic Development Mary Ng. Minister Ng expressed Canada’s interest in ERIA’s works on supply chains in the context of Indo-Pacific. She underscored this interest with the appointment of Canada’s Trade Representative on Indo-Pacific in Jakarta and recommended that ERIA work closely with his office. She also expressed her interest in women-led development in the ASEAN region and offered full support for ERIA’s work on this issue.

Prof Watanabe assured Canada of full support for its engagement in ASEAN and the Indo-Pacific. Both parties looked forward to more cooperative work in the future.

Prof Watanabe also met with the Trade Ministers of India and Australia on the sidelines of the outreach meetings. He thanked both the Ministers for their generous financial support to ERIA. Both Ministers invited President Watanabe to visit India and Australia, which he accepted.

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