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[Tentative Translation]

Keidanren's Basic Stance towards the Singapore Ministerial Conference of
the World Trade Organization(WTO)

I. Basic View of the World Trade Organization and the Multilateral Free Trading System

  1. The Japanese business community fully supports the multilateral Free trade system. The multilateral free trade system supported the prosperity that ensued after the end of World War II, and contributes to growth in the vitality of the world economy into the future. Firmly maintaining and strengthening the World Trade Organization, which was established in order to safeguard free trade, benefits all of the countries of the world, including Japan.

    Firm adherence to the WTO Agreement is essential for sound maintenance of the multilateral free trade system and further development of the WTO itself. Certain countries have taken measures which seem to be contrary to the spirit of the WTO Agreement and the spirit of multilateral free trade. It is indeed regrettable that such measures exist, and that they have become a barrier to business activities. Protectionism can never be permitted if we are to succeed in expanding the multilateral free trade system. We strongly call upon all of the members of the WTO to firmly abide by the WTO Agreement. Furthermore, we hope to see a review of any Japanese domestic measures over which there is concern regarding consistency with the WTO Agreement, and we expect to see immediate improvements made wherever necessary.

  2. We expect that the political momentum of the Singapore Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization will further advance the multilateral free trade system. In order to increase the credibility of the WTO and strengthen its capacities, it is essential that each country steadily implement their Uruguay Round commitments. The top priority of the Singapore Ministerial Conference is a reconfirmation by the Ministers of their commitment to steadily implement the Uruguay Round Agreement.

    Furthermore, in the WTO Agreement, which came into effect on 1 January 1995 as a result of the Uruguay Round Agreement, there is a provision for future negotiations on a Built-in Agenda including an Agreement on Agriculture and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Firm implementation of this Built-in Agenda is a essential for advancing the open trading system. Firm demonstration of the resolve to tackle this Built-in Agenda at the Singapore Ministerial Conference is essential for increasing the credibility of the WTO. The Japanese business community places great importance on appropriate protection of intellectual property rights. As such, we call for early implementation of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

  3. We support the efforts of each government and the WTO authorities to realize success in the ordinary activities of the WTO (dispute settlement, Trade Policy Review Measures). It is important to enhance understanding of these measures in both the business community and society in general, and it is equally important to support and make appropriate use of these activities.

  4. In order to ensure expansion in the fundamental capacities of the WTO, it is essential that all countries understand and support the approach to the year 2000 following the Singapore Ministerial Conference in December of this year. Specifically, we need a confirmation at the Ministerial Conference that all countries intend to aim for the success of the new round in the services sector which is actually to begin in 1999. Further, consideration should be given to holding the Ministerial Conference annually, instead of the current once in every two years.

  5. Japan must encourage active participation in the WTO by developing countries, especially those in Asia, and in that regard, must call upon the other advanced countries to understand the diverse stages of economic development and the various social conditions existing in developing countries, thereby playing a responsible role in gaining the understanding of these advanced countries, mainly through the WTO. We call upon the Government of Japan to play an even more active role in reconciling views among developing and advanced countries by exchanging views and issuing recommendations in the sectors being negotiated.

  6. Achieving early accession to the WTO by the People's Republic of China will significantly enhance the transparency of China's trade policies. Considering the expanding influence yielded by China in the world market it is essential that China accede to the WTO in order to ensure the continuity of the multilateral free trade system. Similarly, from this viewpoint, early acceptance of other applicants' entry to the WTO should also be encouraged.

  7. All forms of regional economic integration, including customs union and free trade areas such as the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement, benefit the world economy to the degree that they are consistent with the WTO. As such, the inspection rules and inspection capacities of the WTO for regional economic integration must be strengthened, and where it is found that there is inconsistency with the spirit of the multilateral free trade system improvements must be sought.

  8. Since trade and investment exist in a close mutual relationship, we call for the initiation of discussions on investment at the WTO.

  9. By issuing Position Papers, dispatching missions to governmental meetings, and issuing joint statements with economic associations in Europe and the United States, Keidanren has acted in various ways to realize the commitments of the Uruguay Round. Similarly, proposals were announced at the time of the establishment of the Uruguay Round. Keidanren is committed to continuing its efforts to ensure that the views of the Japanese business community are reflected in the WTO and in the global trading system, and intends to strengthen its cooperation with economic associations abroad.

    One way in which Keidanren expresses its support for the activities of the WTO is by providing peripheral support for the dispatch of personnel from Japan to the WTO Secretariat. Keidanren intends to continue and strengthen such activities.

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