In a proactive response to escalating global tensions, particularly in trade sectors, the Group of Seven (G7) nations have committed to fostering robust supply chains for pivotal minerals, such as rare-earth elements pivotal for electric vehicles. Yasutoshi Nishimura, Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister, revealed this consensus during the G7 trade ministers’ meeting in Osaka, reports NikkeiAsia.
For the inaugural time, this meeting, co-chaired by Nishimura, incorporated discussions with emerging and developing nations within the ministerial framework. The intent behind this collaboration is to amplify cooperation with mineral-abundant countries, particularly those in the Global South. The role these nations play in establishing reliable supply chains has gained significant importance due to the current geopolitical climate.
Recent episodes, like Russia’s conflict with Ukraine and the heightened tensions between the U.S. and China over advanced semiconductors and technology, underscore the imperative of economic security. These events highlight the critical nature of supply chains for materials indispensable in manufacturing computer chips and batteries.
China, known to employ trade dominance as a tool for political leverage, has been criticised by democratic nations for its “economic coercion”. To put this in context, China recently instated export controls on graphite, a vital component for batteries, fuel cells, and nuclear reactors. Addressing this matter, Nishimura stated, “We are going to deal with the issue” but emphasised avoiding “excessive protectionism”
The discussions weren’t limited to the core G7 nations – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the U.S., along with the European Union. Other participants included India, Australia, Chile, Indonesia, and Kenya, alongside global bodies like the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Among the issues to be addressed, a standout is the reform of the WTO’s dispute resolution system. It’s been criticised for its potential instability due to unoccupied positions in the Appellate Body. The spotlight is also on China’s recent ban on Japanese marine products following the Fukushima nuclear power plant incident. The Japanese government, led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, contemplates addressing this issue through the WTO, with the G7 nations considering discussing this at their assembly.
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