Ja­pan, China Agree Trade War Will Harm Global Econ­omy


TOKYO (Reuters) - Ja­pan and China agree that a trade war will have se­ri­ous con­se­quences for the world econ­omy, Ja­panese For­eign Min­is­ter Taro Kono said on Mon­day after a high-level eco­nomic di­a­logue be­tween the world’s third- and sec­ond-largest economies.

Con­cern is grow­ing about a trade row be­tween China and the United States in which the two na­tions have threat­ened each other with tar­iffs. Ja­pan has been crit­i­cised by U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on trade and been hit with tar­iffs on steel and alu­minium, but it has not yet threat­ened counter-tar­iffs.

“We have shared un­der­stand­ing that a trade war, no mat­ter which coun­try has brought it about, would have a very large im­pact on the pros­per­ity of the in­ter­na­tional econ­omy,” Kono told re­porters after the first such di­a­logue in more than seven years.

Kono and the Chi­nese govern­ment’s top diplo­mat, State Coun­cil­lor Wang Yi, co-chaired the Tokyo meet­ing. Wang is also for­eign min­is­ter.

Fi­nan­cial mar­kets have been roiled re­cently over fears that a full-blown U.S.-China trade war could shat­ter global trade and eco­nomic growth.

Trade is­sues will likely be at the fore­front of a sum­mit be­tween Ja­pan’s Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe and Pres­i­dent Trump later this week. Tokyo is ea­ger to avoid be­ing pushed into talks on a two-way free trade agree­ment aimed not only at mar­ket ac­cess but at mone­tary and cur­rency poli­cies.

Kono also said it was pos­si­ble that Ja­pan works with China on Bei­jing’s Belt and Road projects.

“It is quite pos­si­ble that Ja­pan co­op­er­ates with China on var­i­ous (Belt and Road) projects on a case by case ba­sis where in­ter­na­tional stan­dards are met,” Kono said.

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, un­veiled in 2013, aims at build­ing a mod­ern-day Silk Road con­nect­ing China by land and sea to South­east Asia, Cen­tral Asia, the Mid­dle East, Europe and Africa.

Abe and Xi pledged last year to re­set the some­times touchy re­la­tion­ship be­tween Asia’s two largest eco­nomic pow­ers.

Wang, who spent eight years in Ja­pan as a diplo­mat in­clud­ing three as am­bas­sador, said the chang­ing eco­nomic cli­mate pre­sented fresh op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“After re­open­ing these talks, we’re both stand­ing at new start­ing points to dis­cuss fu­ture co­op­er­a­tion that will, I hope, lead to fresh eco­nomic growth for both na­tions,” Wang said at the start of the eco­nomic di­a­logue.

Wang is the first Chi­nese for­eign min­is­ter to visit Ja­pan in a bi­lat­eral con­text in nine years. He and Kono dis­cussed a broad range of is­sues, in­clud­ing North Korea, on Sun­day night.

Re­port­ing by Nobuhiro Kubo and Kiyoshi Tak­e­naka, Writ­ing by Elaine Lies; Edit­ing by Eric Mei­jer and Jac­que­line Wong

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