||Asean Affairs 16 July 2013
6th ASEAN Secretary-General and the Japanese Business Community Dialogue
Japanese businesses are looking to another fruitful year in ASEAN, following a meeting between ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh, and the Federation of Japanese Chambers of Commerce and Industry in ASEAN (FJCCIA).
“As we in ASEAN try our best to accommodate the interests of the private sector by taking appropriate actions on the recommendations, we also need to bear in mind that this has to be followed up with dissemination of the rationale and importance of the change and at times with supporting training and capacity building activities so as to ‘buy in’ those implementing the proposed changes,” said SG Minh in his keynote address.
The meeting discussed ways to improve trade facilitation - including at and behind the border measures - to create a business-friendly environment in ASEAN.
First inaugurated in 2008 in Bangkok, this interactive dialogue serves as a way to exchange views on business conditions, challenges and issues faced by the Federation members operating in ASEAN with the Secretary-General.
Based on a number of recommendations made by FJCCIA for a smoother flow of goods and the continuous work being carried by the various sectoral bodies/ working groups in ASEAN, it was noted that a number of accomplishments have been achieved. These include the abolishment of free-on-board (FOB) value in the certificate of origin (CO) Form D; full ratification of the ASEAN Harmonised Electronic and Electrical Equipment Regulatory Regime (AHEEERR); and concrete actions of the countries in Mekong sub-region to conduct single stop inspection.
The FJCCIA also submitted new recommendations for further improvement that will be considered in the year 2014. The recommendations include elimination of non-tariff barriers/ measures (NTBs/ NTMs); liberalisation of support services under “ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS)”; “ASEAN Business Travel Card” scheme; and good progress in the regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP) negotiations.
According to FJCCIA’s press conference materials circulated at the Dialogue, Japanese business community based in ASEAN had expanded from 5,034 companies in 2012 to 5,647 companies as of June 2013, engaged primarily in the automotive and auto-parts, electronic and electrical appliance, chemicals, consumer products, and financial services.
This year also marks the 40th year of ASEAN-Japan cooperation and friendship. On ASEAN and Japan economic ties, there is resurgence of Japanese trade and investment into the ASEAN region; Japan became ASEAN’s top export destination in 2011, from third position in 2010. ASEAN’s exports to Japan increased by 41.1% amounting to US$ 145.2 billion while imports from Japan grew by 23.5% totalling US$128.1 billion. Japan maintained its position as the second largest trading partner after China. On investments, Japan stepped one notch up from third to second largest source of FDI for ASEAN in 2011. Foreign direct investment (FDI) from Japan to ASEAN increased by 39.6% year-on-year to US$15 billion in 2011.
ASEAN and Japan agreed to bring the economic relations to a strategic level and in 2012 with the endorsement of the “10-Year Strategic Economic Cooperation Roadmap” that spans activities from 2012 until 2022 and will cover wide ranging areas including improvement of business environment, trade and investment facilitation and liberalization, infrastructure development, connectivity, human resources development, enhancement and coordination on domestic policies and regulations, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), among others.