Statement of Mr. Yohei Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan

December 3, 1999
Seattle, the United States

I have exerted efforts to achieve a successful outcome of this Ministerial Conference since I arrived at Seattle, with my recognition that the launch of the new round of trade negotiations is critical in order to maintain and strengthen the multilateral free trade system and to further develop Japanese economy. Together with Mr. Takashi Fukaya, Minister of International Trade and Industry, and Mr. Tokuichiro Tamazawa, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, I have attended many a number of formal, as well as, informal meetings and had bilateral meetings with my counterparts from other WTO Member countries, from early morning to late at night and made my utmost to finalize the Ministerial Declaration. The issues confronting us, however, have proven to be so diverse and difficult for us to reach a conclusion. I have to say, to be honest, that time allocated here in Seattle for the Ministers to resolve them was insufficient.

It is truly regrettable that this has become the outcome. Nevertheless, I do not believe that we have made meaningless efforts up to today hoping to launch the new round of negotiations. As I stated in my opening address at the plenary session of the Ministerial Conference, the WTO faces two major challenges: to ensure further active participation of developing countries and to address the concerns on various issues related to trade liberalization. Now we must learn from our experiences in Seattle so that the WTO overcomes the difficulties and evolve further in facing with the reality of the transforming world. Japan will redouble its efforts to launch the new round negotiations as soon as possible so that the multilateral trade system under the WTO will further develop.

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