Policy Proposals Trade, Investment, EPA/FTA Towards the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference
The spread of COVID-19 continues to cast a dark shadow over the global economy. While some countries have achieved rapid economic recovery thanks to the roll-out of vaccines, a number of emerging and developing countries with limited access to vaccines and insufficient fiscal capacity are still struggling, raising concerns about widening disparities. The existence of supply shortage risks and disruptions due to COVID-19 is unequivocal. In addition, confrontation between the two major powers is dividing the world, and this trend has become even more evident due to protectionist measures triggered by the pandemic, putting the free and open international economic order at risk.
In the meanwhile, strengthening efforts to achieve sustainable development is becoming an urgent issue. For example, more than 120 countries have set the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
Under these circumstances, the WTO is in a position to play its role of ensuring multilateral free cross-border movement of natural persons, goods, financial resources, services, data, etc., and thereby realizing sustainable development. However, after more than a quarter of a century since its establishment, the WTO's function has deteriorated significantly so that it cannot take the initiative in either rulemaking or dispute settlement as it used to. The organization needs fundamental reform.
As stated in the preamble of the Marrakesh Agreement, the WTO aims to expand trade in goods and services, while allowing for the optimal use of the world's resources in accordance with the objective of sustainable development, seeking both to protect and preserve the environment, in a manner consistent with the Parties' respective needs and concerns at different levels of economic development. This spirit has never faded away. Now is the time to strengthen and revitalize the function of this organization by getting back to its original spirit. To this end, active and constructive involvement of major Members is essential, and every method of reaching an agreement, including plurilateral approaches and efforts outside the WTO framework should be pursued. The WTO Members should never hijack the consensus principle to hinder the formulation of an agreement.
In order to strengthen the function of the WTO and thereby reconstruct the rule-based free and open international economic order, the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) must see tangible, or at least promising, results on the following items I to III. If these are not achieved, the international community could face the risk of the rule of power or the weaponization of trade prevailing instead of the rule of law.
With the appointment of the new Director General in February this year and the first Ministerial Conference in four years approaching at the end of November, the business community of Japan reiterates its expectations for the maintenance and strengthening of the multilateral free trade scheme.
Keidanren will advocate the strengthening of the WTO through B7, B20, Business at OECD (BIAC), etc., by collaborating with economic organizations in Europe, the United States, and Asia, and by utilizing opportunities such as the WTO Public Forum.
I. Formulation and Modernization of the WTO Rules
1. Addressing Global Issues
(1) Trade and Health
In order to contribute to the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 through trade policies, it is necessary to establish concrete rules on export restrictions for medical supplies, based on the proposals of like-minded countries including Japan. As for the distribution of vaccines, full consideration should be given not only to the intellectual property aspect but also to the supply chain from procurement of raw materials to transportation in order to prepare for the next possible pandemic.
(2) Trade and Environment
To address climate change issues, negotiations on the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) should be resumed and environmentally friendly goods should be promoted through tariff elimination. Regarding the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) that the European Union (EU) is now planning to introduce, the WTO needs to thoroughly verify how it is structured and implemented from the viewpoint of compatibility with the WTO rules.
(3) Fisheries Subsidies
As targeted in the SDGs, negotiations should be concluded by MC12 to prohibit fisheries subsidies that lead to overfishing and to eliminate subsidies that lead to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The conclusion of this agreement, the only multilateral negotiation currently underway, will prove the significance of the WTO's existence and give momentum to MC12.
2. Addressing Market-Distorting Measures
Under the current rules, measures against market-distorting industrial subsidies and forced technology transfers are not sufficient. In order to ensure a level playing field, disciplines need to be strengthened based on discussions at the Trilateral Meeting of the Trade Ministers of Japan, the United States and the EU.
3. Addressing Digitalization
Despite the fact that economic activities have been rapidly digitalized, multilateral rules on digitalization have not yet been established. It is necessary to conclude a discipline on e-commerce currently being discussed among the interested Members to a high standard. The plurilateral approach is a consensus-building approach that contributes greatly to strengthening the WTO's functions, provided that all the WTO Members, including non-Members of the initiative, have access to the process (ensuring transparency), that it opens the door to all Members (ensuring openness), and that no Member, including developing countries, gets left behind (ensuring inclusiveness). If the e-commerce agreement is concluded, it will be a successful example of the plurilateral approach and is expected to have a positive impact on building consensus in other areas.
II. Review of Special and Differential Treatment (S&DT) for Developing Countries
There are no WTO definitions of developing countries. Members that declare themselves to be developing countries have the right to receive "special and differential treatment." However, there are Members no longer regarded as developing countries that still enjoy their status and do not fulfill their obligations. The status of developing countries should be differentiated according to their economic development levels and their financial and human capacities, and developed countries should assume reasonable responsibilities. It is important to ensure a level playing field with genuine developing countries, promote South-South trade and thereby realize sustainable development.
III. Restoration of the Dispute Settlement System
The Dispute Settlement System of the WTO functioned as the "last resort," despite the fact that rulemaking under the Doha Round negotiations had become complicated and stagnated. However, since December 2019, the Appellate Body has ceased to function because the necessary number of Members have not been appointed. If the situation prevails, the decision of the Panel would be undermined, resulting in "resolution by force" such as unilateral sanctions. It is therefore necessary to restore the function of the Appellate Body as soon as possible.
Annex 1: Issues to be Addressed for the Restoration of the Function of the WTO
I. Formulation and Modernization of the WTO Rules
1. Addressing Global Issues
(1) Trade and Health
The largest global challenge we face at present is the prevention of COVID-19. It is impossible for any country to get through the crisis unless inward-looking policies, such as vaccine nationalism, are eliminated and efforts are made to prevent the spread of infection throughout the world. In this regard, the WTO, which is a multilateral framework, can contribute through trade policy.
Based on the "Trade and Health Initiative,"#1 it is urgently necessary to establish rules addressing unregulated export restrictions on medical supplies. According to GATT Article 11.2 (a), export restrictions are exceptionally permitted for the purpose of preventing or relieving critical shortages of products, therefore, export restrictions on medical supplies should be lifted as soon as possible.
In the meanwhile, some Members are raising tariffs on major industrial products and restricting food exports to protect domestic industries which were adversely affected by the spread of COVID-19. Such protectionist measures could lead to a vicious cycle in which shrinking trade undermines the world economy. It is therefore necessary to agree among the major economic powers on the elimination of protectionist measures at the G20 Trade Ministers' Meeting#2 and Leaders' Meeting,#3 which will be held prior to MC12.
Currently, several WTO Members are jointly proposing the waiver of intellectual property protection for vaccines.#4 It should be noted, however, that there is an option to use intellectual property without authorization of the right holder under the condition that adequate remuneration is paid, as stipulated in Article 31 (h) of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), rather than to have recourse to the waiver. Also, there are cases where companies voluntarily declare that they will not exercise their intellectual property rights,#5 and each WTO Member should make use of such opportunities.
In order to promote production and distribution of vaccines, it is necessary to strengthen the connectivity of the supply chain as a whole, from procurement of raw materials and production to smooth and safe transportation. Therefore, this issue cannot be addressed only by focusing on intellectual property.
Besides, Members that have proposed the waiver of intellectual property protection for vaccines require similar measures for testing materials, therapeutic agents, medical devices, protective equipment, etc.#6 Waiver of intellectual property protection across such a broad range of products would undermine the original purpose of the TRIPs and is, therefore, not acceptable.
(2) Trade and Environment
Japan, the United States, and the European Commission, respectively, are proposing to raise their 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction targets under the Paris Agreement in order to achieve carbon neutrality (CN) by 2050. Against this backdrop, it is necessary to promote trade in a way that contributes to emission reductions throughout the global community, including developing and emerging countries. The WTO has an important role to play here because trade aspects of environmental issues need to be addressed multilaterally, which is beyond the capacity of EPAs/FTAs alone.
In order to promote the dissemination of environmentally friendly goods, negotiations on the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA), which started in July 2014 and have been suspended, should be resumed (see Annex 2 for goods to be negotiated under the EGA). Besides, in view of the fact that the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) schedule of commitments has not been revised for many years, conclusion of the "Environmental Services Agreement" should be envisaged among interested Members following the resumption of the EGA negotiations.#7
The Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) prohibits the application of technical regulations creating unnecessary obstacles to international trade (Article 2.2). Thus, environmental regulations such as mandatory disclosure of carbon footprints should not be more trade-restrictive than necessary to fulfil legitimate objectives.
The European Commission is now preparing for the implementation of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), which requires the surrender of certificates when importing certain goods, corresponding to the carbon price that would have been paid, had the goods been produced under the EU's carbon pricing rules. CBAM needs to be WTO compatible and should not result in a disguised restriction on international trade or an advantage to a particular country. It must motivate all countries around the world, including emerging economies, to engage in climate action, while avoiding adverse impacts on international trade.#8
When implementing CBAM, it is important to objectively evaluate not only the explicit carbon pricing measures such as carbon tax and emission trading, but also implicit measures aiming at emissions reduction in the country of origin.#9 Those measures include energy-related taxes, feed-in tariffs (FITs), regulations under the Energy Efficiency Act, and voluntary initiatives by the private sector. Those planning to introduce CBAM, including the European Commission, shall objectively verify and evaluate the costs and effects of emission reductions of these measures in the country of origin, and bear the burden of proof under both domestic and international law, regarding the appropriateness of requiring the surrender of CBAM certificates.
With regard to WTO compatibility, those involved should consider whether or not surrendering different amounts of CBAM certificates based on carbon emissions for "like products" is in conformity with the most-favoured-nation treatment under GATT Article 1 and national treatment under GATT Article 3. In particular, it is necessary to consider whether there is any justification under GATT Article 3 for granting free allocation of emission allowances to domestic industries#10 while requiring the surrender of CBAM certificates for imported "like products."#11
In order to sort out these issues, it is essential for Japan, the United States, and the European Commission, which have set the goal of achieving CN by 2050, to start a dialogue on CBAM.#12 In addition, rules should be established and applied for accurate, feasible, well balanced, and reliable measurement/evaluation of emissions per unit, while verifying the carbon costs of the product.#13
(3) Fisheries Subsidies
Special and differential treatment (S&DT) for developing country Members including LDC Members is being considered under the current negotiating text.#14 Since the majority of Members involved in fisheries are developing countries or LDCs, it is necessary to design the scheme so as to ensure that the S&DT measures do not interfere with the SDGs' original target of preventing overfishing.
2. Addressing Market-Distorting Measures
Export subsidies are prohibited under Article 3 of the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (the SCM Agreement), however, industrial subsidies are not necessarily prohibited. As a response to COVID-19, many Members are delivering industrial subsidies to stimulate their economies, support SMEs, and promote innovation, etc. Such industrial subsidies should not be denied as long as they are issued for necessary policies to the extent necessary. On the other hand, market-distorting subsidies, such as those that encourage overproduction, should be disciplined under the WTO by revising the SCM Agreement.
In particular, unlimited guarantees, subsidies to an insolvent or ailing enterprise in the absence of a credible restructuring plan, subsidies to enterprises operating in sectors or industries in overcapacity, and certain direct forgiveness of debt#15 could be defined as prohibited subsidies, in line with export subsidies. In addition, the current SCM Agreement regulates subsidies that adversely impact the interests of Members to be countervailed (Articles 5 and 6), however, it is interpreted that the burden of proof lies with the party making the request for consultation. As for subsidies identified as having market-distorting effects, reversal of the burden of proof should be considered so that the subsidizing Member must demonstrate that there are no serious negative effects.#16
The Trilateral Meeting of the Trade Ministers of Japan, the United States and the EU#17 should lead the discussion to form a critical mass in the WTO.
3. Addressing Digitalization
(1) WTO Discipline on E-commerce
As economic activities have been rapidly digitalized in the 21st Century, it is essential to conclude a discipline on electronic commerce that sets out rules in line with such realities. Eighty-six WTO Members, covering more than 90% of international trade, are currently participating in discussions based on the "Integrated Negotiating Text." Tangible progress needs to be made with a view to MC12.
In particular, in order to achieve "Data Free Flow with Trust" (DFFT), we should aim for a high-level discipline addressing free cross-border data flow, prohibition of data localization, prohibition of requirements for disclosure of source code and algorithms, and non-discriminatory treatment of digital products. Since absence of tariff barriers in the digital sector has served as the basis for the rapid development of today's digital economy, a permanent moratorium on imposing tariffs on electronic transmissions is required. It goes without saying that securing "trust" (appropriate protection of personal information, ensuring information security, and protection of intellectual property) is indispensable in order to realize free cross-border data flow.
The discussion on e-commerce is progressing as part of the WTO Joint Statement Initiative (JSI), which was adopted by interested Members at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference held in December 2017. Some Members oppose the adoption of this plurilateral approach itself, citing Article 9.1 of the Marrakesh Agreement, which provides that the WTO shall continue the practice of decision-making by consensus.#18 Although a consensus at the Ministerial Conference is required for a plurilateral agreement to be ultimately established as an agreement under the Marrakesh Agreement, as indicated in Article 10.9, this does not discourage interested Members from moving ahead with negotiations under the plurilateral approach, and the opposition of some Members shall not affect the progress of the discussions nor the implementation of the outcome. It is anticipated that Members that are not currently participating in the negotiations, as well as those that are opposed to the adoption of the plurilateral approach itself, will subsequently participate taking into account the views of their own business communities.
(2) Expanding the Membership of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and Updating its List of Products
In order to ensure the free flow of IT products and promote infrastructure development in the digital society, Membership of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) should be increased, and its list of products should be updated. As technology continues to progress day by day, the list should cover a wide range of devices and their accessories, regardless of whether they are directly or indirectly connected to networks (see Annex 2 for details of Members anticipated to join the ITA and products to be covered).
4. Addressing Cross-border Business Activities
As business activities have been globalized, not only large enterprises but also SMEs have expanded their supply chains around the world through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). In fact, cross-border investment has been expanding rapidly, with the inward FDI balance to GDP ratio growing from 5.3% in 1980 to 48.9% in 2020.#19 When engaging in outward FDI, transparency of domestic laws in host countries and prompt application procedures for approval are important for smooth business operations.
(1) Disciplines on Services Domestic Regulation
As for FDI in the services sector, the negotiations on the Disciplines on Services Domestic Regulation are now in their final stages, with the participation of 64 Members.#20 The Disciplines should be concluded by MC12. We welcome the current draft,#21 which addresses application procedures, dialogue on mutual recognition, opportunities to comment before entry into force of a regulation, and open and transparent procedures when adopting technical standards. It is anticipated that Members yet to participate in the negotiations will join subsequently, and undertake the Disciplines as additional commitments under Article 18 of the GATS.
The Disciplines are to be applied to sectors where specific commitments are undertaken. However, from the viewpoint of avoiding domestic regulations becoming unnecessary obstacles, the Disciplines should be strictly observed in all sectors regardless of whether or not specific commitments are undertaken.
(2) Investment Facilitation
Interested Members#22 are discussing an Investment Facilitation Agreement that provides for improved transparency and predictability of investment-related regulations, expediting of the investment approval process, technical cooperation, reinforcement of investment consultation support, an ombudsman system, etc. In concluding the agreement, it is necessary to avoid overlaps and conflicts with the Disciplines on Services Domestic Regulation.
The above Investment Facilitation Agreement does not cover investment liberalization (improvement of market access such as removal of foreign capital ceilings), prohibition of performance requirements, nor investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). Therefore, even if the agreement is enacted, it is still important to pursue high-level bilateral or multilateral agreements in terms of both investment liberalization and protection. It is also anticipated that the talks on investment liberalization and protection will resume at the WTO in the future.#23
(3) Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)
We welcome the recommendations of the WTO Informal Working Group on SMEs.#24 Based on these recommendations, the negotiations should reach agreement by MC12 on major issues such as providing information on each member's policies concerning SMEs, establishing help desks for SMEs, digitalization and rationalization of customs procedures, consulting SMEs when introducing trade regulations, enhancing the WTO database on tariffs and market access, introducing best practices for access to financial services, etc. It is also important to promote liberalization through the revision of the schedule of commitments under GATS mode 3 in order to encourage SMEs to provide services abroad through commercial presence.#25
II. Reviewing the Status of Developing Countries
Twenty-six years after the establishment of the WTO, emerging countries have achieved dramatic economic growth. In order to ensure a level playing field, it is necessary to review the implementation of the special and differential treatment (S&DT) provisions, since countries that are no longer regarded as developing countries continue to enjoy such status. Otherwise, the S&DT provisions, which were originally intended to solve the "North-South problem," may end up causing a "South-South problem." The provisions should be applied to developing countries that truly need them, to the extent necessary. Based on criteria such as share of world trade and GDP,#26 emerging countries with major economic power should immediately undertake full obligations in all the WTO Agreements.
For example, Article 24.8 of the GATT stipulates that substantially all trade shall be liberalized upon the conclusion of a regional trade agreement such as an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). On the other hand, regional trade agreements between developing countries allow for the maintenance and long-term phase-out of tariffs through the application of an "Enabling Clause." #27 However, when concluding a regional trade agreement among developing countries with major economic power, recourse to the "Enabling Clause" should be avoided with a view to fully assuming WTO obligations.
In the case of FTAs to which developed countries are also party, immediate elimination of tariffs is required, and if a phased elimination of tariffs is set for 15- 20 years, the situation should be rectified by accelerating the elimination schedule.
III. Restoration of the Dispute Settlement System
Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU) Article 23.1 provides that when Members seek the redress of a violation of obligations, they shall have recourse to the rules and procedures of the DSU. This provision has precluded any resolution by "force," such as unilateral sanctions.
Following the paralysis of the Appellate Body's functions, the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) was notified in April 2020 of the Multi-Party Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement (MPIA), as an interim measure to overcome the current situation, which utilizes arbitration under Article 25 of the DSU as an appeal process. The MPIA could be an option to prevent "appealing into the void," where a defendant party refuses to settle the dispute by appealing to a non-functioning Appellate Body. However, this does not necessarily lead to the fundamental solution of the Appellate Body issue, as it applies only among participating Members.#28
On the other hand, under this system, there are attempts to overcome the problems pointed out concerning the Appellate Body. For example, in light of criticism that the Appellate Body tends to issue advisory opinions or obiter dicta which are not relevant to dispute resolution, Annex 1.10 of the MPIA stipulates that the arbitrators shall only address those issues that are necessary for the resolution of the dispute. In addition, with a view to streamlining the proceedings, Annex 1.12 provides that the pages of the arbitration awards and the length and number of hearings can be limited. These points would be useful as Members work towards restoring the function of the Appellate Body.
Members to the MPIA should also settle disputes against non-MPIA Members in good faith. For example, it would not be appropriate from the viewpoint of good faith to settle a dispute against a MPIA Member by submitting to arbitration, while refusing to settle a dispute against a non- MPIA Member by "appealing into the void."
Provided that the function of the Appellate Body is restored, dialogue between the Appellate Body and the General Council should be held regularly to review Appellate Body Reports. If Appellate Body Reports are subject to review by the Members, the Appellate Body's overreach could be dispelled to some extent.
IV. Reform of the Notification System
The monitoring function is becoming increasingly important in light of the fact that many Members are implementing measures such as providing industrial subsidies to State-Owned Enterprises and restricting exports in response to the spread of COVID-19. As proposed at the Trilateral Meeting of the Trade Ministers of Japan, the United States and the European Union, rules on WTO notification should be established as soon as possible.#29 For example, if such notification is delayed, reasons for the delay and the anticipated time-frame for notification should clearly be explained. Application of penalties could be considered if a notification is not submitted by a certain deadline. In addition, the monitoring function of each WTO Council and Committee should be strengthened.#30
Annex 2: Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) and Information Technology Agreement (ITA)
I. Goods to be negotiated under the EGA
- Goods related to renewable energy (wind power, hydro power, solar power, etc.)
- Energy-saving products and CO2 emission-reducing products (hybrid vehicles, automobile parts, railroad vehicles and their associated parts, EV chargers, energy-saving home appliances, heat pumps type electric water heater, heat exchange unit, industrial inverters, data archivers and their semiconductors, LED lighting equipment, fuel cells, pure hydrogen fuel cells, lithium-ion batteries, energy storage systems, electric compressors, etc.)
- Goods related to high-efficiency power generation (boilers, turbines, etc.)
- Goods related to high-efficiency manufacturing (welding machines, welding robots, direct diode laser oscillators, etc.)
- Goods related to environmental monitoring and analysis (electron microscopes, detectors, smart gas meters, etc.)
- Goods related to control of air pollution and water treatment (filters, pumps, ozonizers, etc.)
- Goods related to recycling and waste management (incinerators, sorting shredders, etc.)
- Other goods related to innovative technologies (hydrogen, CCUS, etc.) etc.
II. Expansion of the membership of the ITA and update of its list of goods
1. Members anticipated to join the ITA
- Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, South Africa
2. Members to the ITA anticipated to join the ITA Expansion
- Egypt, India, Russia, Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia
3. Products to be covered
- TVs, monitors, liquid-crystal display devices, OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) Panels (Devices), transparent OLED display module, projectors, drum-type washing machines and dryers, home appliances with wireless communication function, mobile refrigerators, fluorocarbon-free refrigerators, data archivers, Archival Discs, drones, interchangeable lenses for cameras, X-ray camera accessories, in-vehicle cameras, home IP cameras, intercoms, audio equipment, lithium-ion batteries, new-generation semiconductor materials, next-generation semiconductor devices, products related to smart cities and automatic driving, medical equipment, etc.
- COVID-19 AND BEYOND: TRADE AND HEALTH, WT/GC/223, 24 November 2020
- In Sorrento, October 12, 2021
- In Rome, October 30 and 31, 2021
- Waiver from Certain Provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the Prevention, Containment and Treatment of COVID-19, IP/C/W/669/Rev.1, May 25, 2021
- IP Open Access Declaration Against COVID-19, May, 2020
- Supra., Footnote 4, Annex, Draft Decision Text
- B7 Trade Statement, May 2021, p. 10
- Government of Japan, Green Growth Strategy through Achieving Carbon Neutrality in 2050, June 18, 2021, p. 18. Keidanren, Urgent Policy Proposal toward Achieving Green Growth, June 15, 2021, p. 13
- For example, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said, "It's important that any carbon border adjustment system focus on the degree to which a country's climate policies reduce emissions, and hence carbon content, rather than focus only on explicit carbon pricing." (July 9, 2021)
- According to the proposal by the European Commission, the free allocation of EU-ETS is supposed to be phased out following the start of CBAM in 2026 and will be completely replaced with CBAM in 2035.
- The question may also be whether it can be justified by the general exception under GATT Article 20 (g).
- Keidanren, Enhancing cooperation for the reestablishment of a free and open international economic order, March 16, 2021
- Government of Japan, Green Growth Strategy through Achieving Carbon Neutrality in 2050, June 18, 2021, p. 18
- Fisheries Subsidies, Draft Consolidated Chair Text, TN/RL/W/276, 11 May 2021, Articles 5, 6
- Joint Statement of the Trilateral Meeting of the Trade Ministers of Japan, the United States and the EU (January 14, 2021)
- The Legal Status of ‘Joint Statement Initiatives’ and their Negotiated Outcomes, WT/GC/W/819, 19 February 2021, Annex paras. 5-7
- UNCTAD, World Investment Report 2021
- The participating Members include Japan, USA, China, Korea, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the EU, Israel, etc.
- Draft Reference Paper on Services Domestic Regulation, INF/SDR/W/1/Rev. 2, 18 December 2020
- As of the end of August 2021, 107 countries including Japan, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Qatar, and Nigeria are participating.
- Japan and other developed countries promoted the expansion of the WTO's scope from trade to investment. As stated in the Doha Ministerial Declaration (2001), "we agree that negotiations will take place after the Fifth Session of the Ministerial Conference (MC5, Cancun, Mexico, 2003) on the basis of a decision to be taken, by explicit consensus, at that session on modalities of negotiations." However, due to opposition from developing countries, it did not become an official agenda item at the Doha Round.
- Package of declarations and recommendations adopted to help small businesses trade globally, WTO Informal Working Group on MMEs, 11 December 2020
- B7 Trade Statement (May 2021) p. 13
- B7 Trade Statement (May 2021) p. 7
- Differential and more favourable treatment reciprocity and fuller participation of developing countries, Decision of 28 November 1979 (L/4903). Paragraphs 2 and 3 state that regional trade agreements must be formulated to facilitate trade of developing countries and not to create obstacles or unfair challenges, but they do not specify the relationship with GATT Article 24.
- 24 countries and regions are currently participating.
- Joint Statement of the Trilateral Meeting of the Trade Ministers of Japan, the United States and the European Union, January 14, 2020
- Keidanren, Realizing Free, Open Trade and Investment under COVID-19, Targeting an Inclusive and Resilient Framework, July 14, 2020, p. 5