Asia-Pacific

Japan, China discuss threat of trade war

The threat of a global trade war has been discussed in Tokyo by Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi.

Japan and China agree that a trade war will have serious consequences for the world economy, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono says.

His comments on Monday came 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 US in which the two nations have threatened each other with tariffs. Japan has been criticised by US 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.

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 US-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.

Wang 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 and Kono discussed a broad range of issues, including North Korea.

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