GENEVA — Japan won plaudits Thursday from fellow WTO nations for not opting for economic protectionism amid the global financial crisis and in the aftermath of its 2011 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster.

"Members commended Japan for avoiding protectionism," Pakistan's trade ambassador Shahid Bashir said as the 158-country WTO wrapped up a review of Tokyo's policies.

The World Trade Organization monitors respect for the rules of global commerce established by its member states, which submit to regular reviews.

Japan's review session was chaired by Bashir.

"Members look forward to a swift recovery of Japan's economy, which will enable it to become once again an engine for economic growth in the world economy," he said in a statement.

"Many remarked that Japan is still the third largest economy in the world and as such it plays a vital role for all WTO members," he said.

The review nonetheless flagged up concerns about certain areas of Japanese trade policy.

It highlighted the agriculture, fishing and services sectors, where foreign players face hurdles when they try to access the country's market.

"Macroeconomic policies being pursued, particularly by the new government, can help Japan to recover from the recent economic downturn, but they need to be accompanied by far-reaching structural reforms," said Bashir.

"Trade liberalization can play a key role in these reforms, to stimulate competition and improve productivity, especially in agriculture and services," he said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013