Iceland welcomes the distinguished delegation of Japan led by Deputy Director General Kenko Sone to their 14th Trade Policy Review and would like to express appreciation the WTO Secretariat, as well as to Japan for the reports prepared, as well as to the discussant Ambassador Dagfinn Sorli, for his excellent framing of the issues for the discussion.
Japan and Iceland have a long history of shared values and Iceland regards Japan among one of its closest global partners. Japan is Iceland´s largest export partner in Asia and the largest trading partner that we do not have a free trade agreement with. Japanese market has for long been one of the most important market for Icelandic seafood products.
Imports from Japan amounted to close to 2% of total imports, with main products including motor vehicles and electronic equipment. Iceland and Japan have also been working towards further strengthening the collaboration in the field of geothermal energy.
Despite the geographical distance, Iceland and Japan are like-minded partners enjoying excellent cooperation in various international fora and sharing commitments to promoting a rule-based multilateral system.
As island countries with highly developed fisheries industries, Iceland and Japan share common interest in the elimination of harmful subsidies in the fisheries sector. Iceland looks forward to collaborating with Japan for the successful conclusion of an agreement in the field of fisheries subsidies within the WTO.
Japan was one of 120 WTO members and observers that launched a Joint Declaration on Women and Economic Empowerment that aims at sharing best practices and working together here at the WTO to remove barriers for women’s economic empowerment and increase their participation in trade.
In this respect Iceland thanks the Secretariat for the specific information on Japan’s policies promoting women’s economic empowerment in its report. Japan has enforced labour force reforms, to promote women's participation in the work force through measures such as increased childcare capacity, increased child care leave benefits, training and education programmes, and more flexible working conditions.
The trade policy review provides an excellent opportunity to share best practices in this field. Iceland submitted advance written questions on the participation of women in the economy of Japan. The answers are very useful as we implement the joint declaration on trade and women’s economic empowerment and gather best practices.
Given the very unusual circumstances of this review and the current developments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Iceland wishes the Japanese delegation good health and every success for the success for their trade policy review.