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Overview: ASEAN-JAPAN comprehensive economic cooporation


Introduction

ASEAN and Japan first established informal dialogue relations in 1973, which was later formalised in March 1977 with the convening of the ASEAN-Japan Forum. Since then, significant progress has been made in ASEAN-Japan relations and cooperation in the areas of political security, economic-finance and socio-culture.

The signing of the “Tokyo Declaration for the Dynamic and Enduring ASEAN-Japan Partnership in the New Millennium” together with the “ASEAN-Japan Plan of Action” (ASEAN-Japan POA) at the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit, held in December 2003 in Tokyo, have contributed to the strengthening of relations between the two sides. The 2003 Tokyo Declaration and the ASEAN-Japan POA served as the roadmap in moving ASEAN-Japan relations forward until 2010.

ASEAN and Japan celebrated the 40th Anniversary of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation throughout 2013 by implementing various commemorative events, including an ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit held on 14 December 2013. The Summit adopted the Vision Statement on ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation and Its Implementation Plan.

Political and Security Cooperation

ASEAN and Japan conduct their dialogue relations through various mechanisms, which include Summits, ministerial meetings, senior officials and experts meetings, as well as broader ASEAN-initiated regional dialogue mechanisms such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Plus Three (APT), the East Asia Summit (EAS) and ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus).

Japan acceded to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia in July 2004 in Jakarta. Japan’s accession to the TAC has further strengthened the Treaty’s importance as a code of conduct governing relations among countries in the region and as a diplomatic instrument for the promotion of peace and stability in the region.

An annual consultation is held between ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) and Japan, to promote their cooperation in combating transnational crimes and countering terrorism, through capacity-building, training and information exchange. The First ASEAN Plus Japan Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (1st AMMTC+Japan) Consultation was held on 18 September 2013 in Vientiane. At the Meeting, the Ministers shared the intention to enhance their cooperation to fight against terrorism and other forms of transnational crime. The 2nd AMMTC+Japan Consultation will be held in 2015 in Malaysia.

ASEAN and Japan adopted a Joint Declaration for Cooperation on the Fight against International Terrorism at the 8th ASEAN-Japan Summit in November 2004 in Vientiane. This was a concerted response to the emergence of threats posed by transnational crimes, terrorism and piracy not only to the region but the world over. In relation to this, the ASEAN-Japan Counter Terrorism Dialogue (AJCTD) was launched in March 2006, and since then eight Dialogues have been conducted and eleven projects have been completed. The ninth AJCTD is scheduled for 29-30 May 2014 in Singapore

At the 16th ASEAN-Japan Summit held on 9 October 2013 in Bandar Seri Begawan, the Leaders shared their intention to deepen the cooperation to address cybercrime as a new challenge in the region and recognised that capacity building is essential in combating cybercrime. The Leaders decided to upgrade the cooperation on countering terrorism and other forms of transnational crime and hold further discussions on concrete measures. As a follow-up, ASEAN and Japan will conduct the inaugural ASEAN-Japan Cybercrime Dialogue on 27-28 May 2014 in Singapore.

Economic Cooperation

Japan maintained its position as ASEAN’s second largest trading partner after China. Nevertheless, the performance of ASEAN-Japan bilateral trade for the period 2011-2012, showed a 4.0% decline from US$273.3 billion in 2011 to US$262.4 billion in 2012. The decline was due to the drop in ASEAN’s exports to Japan by 13.0% from US$145.2 billion in 2011 to US$126.3 billion in 2012. ASEAN’s imports from Japan however increased by 6.2% amounting from US$128.1 in 2011 to US$136.1 billion in 2012. The foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows from Japan to ASEAN increased by 26.4% from US$16.4 billion in 2011 to US$20.8 billion in 2012. Japan remained the second largest source of FDI.

ASEAN and Japan signed the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP) on 14 April 2008. The AJCEP Agreement is comprehensive in scope, covering trade in goods, trade in services, investment and economic cooperation. The Agreement entered into force on 1 December 2008. As of March 2009, all ASEAN Member States and Japan have ratified the Agreement. ASEAN and Japan have substantially concluded the negotiations on the Services and Investment Chapters of the AJCEP Agreement.

The ASEAN-Japan 10-year Strategic Economic Cooperation Roadmap was endorsed at the 18th Consultations between the ASEAN Economic Ministers and the Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan on 30 August 2012. The Roadmap aims to promote strategic partnership in a wide range of areas including improvement of business environment, trade and investment facilitation and liberalisation, infrastructure development and connectivity. The Leaders of ASEAN and Japan at the 16th ASEAN-Japan Summit in October 2013 welcomed the progress of the ASEAN-Japan 10-Year Strategic Economic Cooperation Roadmap, where 66 activities or 84.6% of the activities have been implemented, especially in the areas of intellectual property, information and communication technology, industrial human resource development and medical collaboration. The Leaders reiterated the need for our officials to effectively implement the activities under the Roadmap to help move towards our goal of doubling trade and investment flows by 2022.

Business relations and economic cooperation between ASEAN and Japan were continuously promoted. An ASEAN Roadshow to Japan was held on 25-28 April 2012. Six Business Dialogues between the Secretary-General of ASEAN and the Federation of Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in ASEAN (FJCCIA) have been held to date. The six Dialogue was held on 12 July 2013 in Ha Noi. At the 19th AEM-METI Consultations, the Ministers agreed to take into consideration the FJCCIA’s requests which would be submitted at the next dialogue in 2014 for making efforts to deepen economic integration by 2015 and beyond.

Japan remains as one of ASEAN’s active dialogue partners in the area of transport. The First ASEAN and Japan Transport Ministers’ Meeting (ATM +Japan) held in October 2003 in Yangon adopted the terms of reference for ASEAN-Japan Transport Partnership (AJTP). The progress of implementation of measures under the AJTP was regularly reported to the ATM+Japan meetings. Notable progress has been made in the AJTP since its inception, in particular the completion and launching of the Best Approaches Book, a collection of successful experiences and stories of environmental transport policies in ASEAN and Japan, which is a useful reference to further develop Green Transport.

At their 11th Meeting held on 19 December 2013, the ASEAN and Japan Transport Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen the AJTP by adopting a new action plan, “Pakse Action Plan” for the next ten years. This Action Plan includes 23 projects/activities on transport facilitation, transport infrastructure, quality and sustainable transport, and human resources development. The Ministers welcomed Japan’s initiative to conclude a regional air services agreement with ASEAN and agreed to establish a working group under STOM+Japan to facilitate the air transport negotiation between ASEAN and Japan. The Ministers also endorsed Japan’s new initiatives to further enhance ASEAN transport connectivity including “New ASEAN-Japan Aviation Security Project”, “Promotion of ASEAN-Japan Road Technology Exchange” and “Cooperation for Promotion of Public-Private Partnership”.

On connectivity cooperation, Japan has been contributing to the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC). Good progress has been made in the implementation of Japan’s 33 flagship projects for enhancing the ASEAN Connectivity. At the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit in December 2013, Japan announced an additional 36 new connectivity related projects for enhancing the ASEAN Connectivity. As part of the 40th Anniversary of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation, Japan funded through JAIF two events on connectivity: (i) ASEAN-Japan Workshop Identifying Possible Framework for PPP Infrastructure Development to Accelerate ASEAN Connectivity, December 2013, Jakarta; and (ii) Symposium: Towards Realisation of ASEAN Connectivity Plus: Moving Forward with ASEAN-India Connectivity, November 2013, Bangkok.

ASEAN-Japan cooperation on ICT continues to grow. Japan has assisted ASEAN in a number of areas of cooperation, including information security, human resource development, and development of ICT-based services under the ASEAN-Japan ICT Work Plan for 2013-2014. At the Eight ASEAN+Japan Telecommunications and IT Ministers (TELMIN+Japan) held on 15 November 2013 in Singapore, the ASEAN Ministers expressed their appreciation to Japan for its fifth contribution to the ASEAN-Japan ICT Cooperation Fund. The ASEAN Ministers recognised that the “ASEAN-Japan Collaboration Framework on Information Security” progressed well and agreed to deepen and widen cooperation on information security through joint activities. The Ministers also endorsed Japan’s proposal for mutual cooperation in the field of ICT under the “ASEAN Smart Network Initiative”.

To support the promotion of trade, investment and tourism, the ASEAN-Japan Centre was established in May 1981 through the Agreement Establishing the ASEAN Promotion Centre on Trade, Investment and Tourism. The Tokyo-based Centre plays a pivotal role to promote an increase of exports, flow of investment and tourism in the economic development between Japan and ASEAN Member States.

Socio-Cultural Cooperation

ASEAN and Japan place emphasis on people-to-people contacts and cultural exchanges, particularly among the youth and intellectuals, with a view to fostering a sense of togetherness, mutual respect and understanding of each other’s traditions and values. The Japan East-Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) was initiated by Japan and launched in 2007. Under the programme, about 13,500 youth from ASEAN visited Japan and about 700 Japanese youth visited ASEAN Member States to promote mutual understanding and friendly relations. JENESYS concluded at the end of July 2012 and Japan launched JENESYS 2.0, which would bring a total of 30,000 young people from ASEAN and other Asian Nations to Japan.

Another Japan-initiated youth exchange programme called “Kizuna” (which means “Bond”), was implemented from June 2012 to March 2013. The project invited more than 10,000 youth, approximately 3,500 of which were from ASEAN Member States. Through the programme the youth had the opportunity to participate in several activities, including visiting the disaster-affected areas in the Northeast of Japan and engaging in volunteer activities.

In the area of public health, the project on “Stockpiling of Tamiflu and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) against New Infectious Diseases” with an aim to combat and contain the threat of Avian Flu was supported by JAIF with a funding support of USD30 million.

ASEAN and Japan affirmed their commitment to addressing major global and transboundary challenges such as climate change and the environment. ASEAN and Japan implemented cooperative projects in the areas of biodiversity and Environmentally Sustainable Cities under the framework of the ASEAN-Japan environmental cooperation dialogue.

ASEAN and Japan continue to cooperate and take initiatives to strengthen cooperation on disaster management, an area of highest priority for ASEAN and Japan. Japan held the World Ministerial Conference on Disaster Reduction on 3-4 July 2012 in Tohoku, Japan. At the Conference Japan shared its experiences and lessons learned on the Great East Japan Earthquake. Japan provides funding support to Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) through JAIF. Two projects funded by JAIF for strengthening the capacity of the AHA Centre are currently on-going, namely the project to establish of an Integrated ICT system to strengthen the operation of AHA Centre and the project to establish a Disaster Emergency Logistic System for ASEAN.

A public outreach programme was launched with the support of Japan to promote greater awareness and knowledge of ASEAN community building and to further foster closer relationship between the peoples of ASEAN and Japan. Activities under this programme includes, among others, Surveys on ASEAN Community Building Efforts, Secretary-General of ASEAN’s Engagement with Stakeholders in Japan and ASEAN Promotional Materials.

Narrowing Development Gap

Japan reaffirmed its continued commitment to helping narrow the development gaps in ASEAN through various sub-regional development endeavours. Japan is continuing to support strengthen the capacity of CLMV countries through the Initiative for ASEAN Integration Work Plan II. Japan also supports other sub-regional development areas within ASEAN such as the Greater Mekong Sub-region and Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) to promote economic and social development of the sub-regions. The annual Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting has been held since 2009, back-to-back with the ASEAN Summit.

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