Opening Remarks
by Mr. Chiaki Takahashi, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs,
at the Global Services Summit,
organized by the Coalition of Service Industries
July 20, 2011, Washington, DC


1. Introduction

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honor for me to have been given the opportunity to discuss today two themes that are characteristic of trade policy in the 21st century, namely "services" and "Asia." I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone involved in this summit for your hard work, beginning with our host, Bob Vastine, President of the Coalition of Service Industries.

Last May, I attended the Meeting of APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade held in Montana, where discussions took place on general Asia-Pacific trade policy, and major results were achieved under the chairmanship of the United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk. On that occasion, I also had the pleasure of speaking with Mexico's Secretary of the Economy, Bruno Ferrari.

2. Recovering from the Great East Japan Earthquake

Before I begin the main subject of my talk, I would like to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude for the great support Japan has received from numerous countries in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Together with the tsunami that struck the Japanese coastline soon after, the Earthquake caused destruction on an unprecedented scale, leaving over 23,000 people dead or missing and resulting in 16.9 trillion Yen in damage.

In response to this catastrophe, the Government of Japan has mobilized the full range of resources at its disposal to provide relief and support for the people of the disaster area and to work toward recovery. We have done so with the expression of assistance of 161 countries and regions and 43 international organizations by the beginning of this month, including the United States, which provided very encouraging support under the banner of "Operation Tomodachi." I would like to take this opportunity to express Japan's sincere gratitude for all of the help we received.

Step by step, Japan is beginning to recover. Most parts of the country were not affected at all by the massive earthquake. As a whole, we continue to be "open for business and travel."

Turning to the incident at the nuclear power station, Japan continues to exert every effort to resolve this issue. Although much about the situation remains uncertain, it is clear that we are proceeding in a positive direction. The Government of Japan will continue working to provide fast, accurate and transparent information.

The best support any country can now provide Japan is the further promotion of business, tourism, and exchange of foreign students. The Government of Japan is deeply grateful to the many countries that have already lifted shipping restrictions. We request that you continue to promote further exchange with Japan.

3. Asia as the Global Center of Growth

Now I move to the main subject of my speech, "the competitive environment in Asia".

< Asia, the global growth center >

As for the situation in Asia, it was this region that was the first to show signs of recovery after the global economic crisis. Asia is now central to global economic growth. According to forecasts by the IMF, by 2015, Asia is expected to surpass both NAFTA and the EU in terms of its overall economic size.

< The role of China and the WTO Doha Round >

In the midst of such growth in Asia, ten years have now passed since China acceded to the WTO in 2001. In that time, it has become clear to everyone that through trade, China has earned great opportunities for growth from the global economic system. The country's presence in the field of services is expanding as well. There will be time to focus more on this later. I believe this discussion will be of great value in view of how the competitive environment in Asia in 21st century should be.

Speaking of the WTO, every actor involved in the organization is now concerned about the lack of significant progress in the Doha Round negotiations which would govern the global economic system in the next decade or so.

The most important thing in this process is for the WTO members that reap benefits from the Doha Round, particularly those with remarkable growth, to be aware of the need to assume responsibilities appropriate to those benefits.

< The importance of APEC >

Whenever we speak about trade with Asia, it is essential to consider the importance of APEC. Last year, Japan served as APEC chair. During the APEC leaders' meeting, the Yokohama Vision was set forth as a path toward growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. In adopting that Vision, we agreed to continue to work toward the further liberalization and facilitation of services, goods and investment.

The APEC leaders' meeting this year will take place in November in Honolulu, a city located in the center of the Pacific Ocean. Among other issues, Japan hopes to work with this year's chair, the United States, on such issues as regional economic integration and the promotion of green growth, including the liberalization of environmental goods and services.

4. Japanese Initiatives

< Proactive negotiations on EPAs and FTAs >

Now, I would like to talk a bit about the present situation of Japan's EPA and FTA policies. Japan signed an EPA with Peru in May of this year. Furthermore, in just 10 days, on August 1, the EPA concluded between Japan and India in February is scheduled to enter into force.

In Japan's Basic Policy on Comprehensive Economic Partnerships established in November of last year, we declared our absolute resolve to open up Japan and pioneer a new future. We are dedicated to promoting the kind of high-level economic partnerships that will withstand in comparison with the trend of other such relationships among other nations. To this end, Japan will press ahead with necessary and fundamental domestic reform. The recent Guideline on Policy Promotion formulated to set a direction for reconstruction following the earthquake reconfirmed many of the fundamental ideas of the aforementioned Basic Policy. Regarding the timing of a decision on whether to participate in the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, although this has been delayed by the earthquake, we wish to consider this matter anew from an overall perspective, and would like to make a decision at the earliest possible date.

5. Conclusion

The Great East Japan Earthquake has made my country again realize the bonds that it shares with the rest of the world. Japan is determined to proceed as soon as possible with what we are calling "open reconstruction," a process of partnership with the international community. We will work as one of the world's leading countries to return the many gestures of goodwill we have received from the international community. In order to do so, Japan intends to remain active in the dynamic services industry of Asia and to continue to vigorously contribute to the creation of 21st century rules that promote trade in this area.

Thank you for your attention.

Back to Index