An Appeal to the ASEAN Countries for the Success of the Third Ministerial Conference of the WTO
(Foreign Minister Kono's Message to the ASEAN Foreign Ministers and Others)

November 24, 1999

  1. Mr. Yohei Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs, has sent a message to the foreign ministers and those in charge of the WTO (when they are not a foreign minister) of the seven WTO-member ASEAN countries - Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, seeking cooperation for the success of the Third Ministerial Conference of the WTO to be held from November 30 in Seattle.

  2. The gist of the message is as follows:

    (1) Japan has great interests at stake for the WTO's first round of negotiations. However, the preparatory process in Geneva is not making sufficient progress. Japan is therefore deeply concerned that many issues may not be solved in the preparation process and may be carried over to the Ministerial Conference.

    (2) Japan believes that the next round should be comprehensive, covering a sufficiently broad-based agenda, to respond in a well-balanced manner to the various concerns of all members, including developing countries.

    (3) Japan is attentive to the legitimate concerns of the developing country members. For instance, Japan is exercising necessary flexibility in the ongoing consultations on the question of implementation of the existing WTO agreements. In terms of strengthening the WTO rules, Japan believes that strengthening anti-dumping rules and making multilateral rules on foreign direct investment are appropriate.

    (4) In responding properly to the concerns of the "civil society", Japan believes, for instance, that discussion on trade in forestry and fishery products needs to address not only market access but also the issues of global environment and the sustainable utilization and conservation of natural resources.

    (5) As for agriculture, Japan's position is that negotiations should be conducted on the basis of Article 20 of the Agreement on Agriculture, taking into account non-trade concerns, including the multifunctional role of agriculture and food security. Some countries are demanding a framework for negotiations that exceeds Article 20 and are trying to negotiate in advance; and this is hindering the progress of the preparatory process on agriculture.

    (6) The prosperity of Japan and the ASEAN countries is closely related to effective functioning of a multilateral trading system. A successful Seattle Ministerial Conference is indispensable for further strengthening of this system. We must exert our utmost efforts to this end. Japan therefore seeks further cooperation from the ASEAN countries.


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