| 30 November 2023, Thursday |

G7 urges repeal of bans on Japanese food products; China denounces ‘economic coercion’

The Group of Seven (G7) industrial nations issued a statement on Sunday urging the “immediate removal” of restrictions on Japanese food product imports. This statement was a direct reference to the measures taken by China in response to Japan’s decision to release treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
During a weekend meeting in Osaka, the G7 trade ministers issued a statement expressing their disapproval of actions that exploit economic dependencies and committed to fostering “free, fair, and mutually beneficial economic and trade relationships.” The statement, which does not specifically mention China, underscores growing concerns throughout the world about what the G7 views as increased economic coercion through trade.

China had previously imposed a comprehensive ban on Japanese fish imports two months ago when Japan commenced the release of treated radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima facility into the Pacific Ocean. Both Japan and the United States have criticised these restrictions as unfair, and Russia similarly imposed a comparable ban earlier this month.
In response, China has characterised the G7’s actions as “economic coercion” and urged the group not to adhere to double standards but to take practical measures to preserve normal international trade and investment patterns. The Chinese embassy in Japan expressed concerns that G7 members’ actions disrupt global production and supply chains’ security and stability.

Other economic concerns

The G7, composed of the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, and Canada, also voiced concerns about recent measures to control the export of critical minerals. China, the world’s leading graphite producer, announced export restrictions on this crucial material, which is extensively used in electric vehicle batteries. This move was seen as an attempt to bolster control over the supply of critical minerals, as China faces challenges to its global manufacturing dominance.

The G7 trade ministers emphasised the necessity to reduce dependence on any single country for critical resources and underscored the importance of building dependable supply chains for critical minerals, semiconductors, and batteries.

The ministers also reaffirmed their worries about various non-market policies, including what they characterised as “pervasive, opaque, and trade-distortive industrial subsidies” and the forced transfer of technology. While there was no mention of the West Asia crisis during the trade ministers’ meeting, the group did express their commitment to raising awareness about the challenges associated with moving humanitarian goods across international borders during natural disasters and emergencies.

Recent events in West Asia have raised concerns and calls for a ceasefire to facilitate aid delivery to Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Western nations have generally supported Israel’s right to self-defence but are increasingly concerned about the impact of the conflict and the need for humanitarian aid.

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