July 7, 2011

Asean Trade Ministers To Meet Japanese Stakeholders In KL


KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 -- Trade ministers from Asean and Japan will meet members of the Federation of Japanese Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Asean (FJCCIA) here in conjunction with the chamber's two-day annual dialogue from July 8.

They are expected to deliberate on the implementation of the Asean Free Trade Area (AFTA), free trade agreements (FTAs) as well as ways to address barriers to trade in order to boost economic cooperation between Japanese investors and Asean.

Other key issues to be discussed include problems faced by Japan's private sector when investing in Asean and ways to boost their investments.

The Malaysian International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) said this was the first time that the regional grouping would engage with the FJCCIA which represents 4,441-member enterprises.

It is anticipated that 80 FJCCIA delegates will be attending the annual dialogue which will be held back-to-back with a symposium on "Enhancing Asean-Japan Relations on Specific Sectors (Automotive, Electrical and Electronics, SMEs and Agro-Based Industry).

"This event underlines the significant contribution of the Japanese private sector in enhancing prosperity, economic progress and social welfare of the Asean region," MITI said.

"Not only does Asean feature prominently in the business plans of the Japanese community as a region that has immense economic potential, it also ranks highly as a trade and investment partner that embraces Japanese technologies, know-how and expertise," it added.

The FJCCIA comprises three distinct groups of Japanese stakeholders, namely Japanese Ambassadors in Asean countries, representatives of the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) in Asean countries and Japanese economic chambers in Asean countries.

Japan, an active dialogue partner of Asean, has always been the top-ranked source of foreign direct investments to the region, pouring in US$5.2 billion in 2009.

Trade between Asean and Japan in 2010 is estimated at US$220 billion from US$160.9 billion in 2009.

The ministerial-level dialogue with the FJCCIA will be co-chaired by Indonesia's Trade Minister Dr Mari Elka Pangestu who is the current chairman of the Asean Economic Ministers (AEM) and Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda.

Asean Secretary-General Dr Surin Pitsuwan will also be involved.

Malaysia's International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed is expected to host a networking dinner on July 8, to be attended by the ministers as well as 150 prominent businessmen from Japan, Asean and Malaysia.

Analysts said Japanese investors, more confident about the Asean region, have called for Southeast Asia to step up the implementation of AFTA and FTAs, and address other issues including impediments to trade and investment.

During the dialogue, short and medium-term measures would likely be drawn up to address problems and issues faced by Japanese businessmen in the Asean region for them to be able to ramp up their investments in the future.

Meanwhile the symposium, to be attended by about 100 delegates, provides a platform for Japanese and Asean businessmen to exchange ideas on ways to boost economic cooperation especially in the automotive, electrical and electronics, agro-based industry and small medium enterprise sectors.

Other Asean ministers attending the dialogue are Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Pehin Datuk Lim Jock Seng (Brunei), Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh (Cambodia), Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr Nam Viyaketh (Laos), Deputy Minister of National Planning and Economy Development Dr KanZaw (Myanmar), Secretary of Trade and Industry Gregory L. Domingo (the Philippines), Minister of Trade and Industry Hng Kiang (Singapore), Deputy Minister of Commerce Alongkorn Ponlaboot (Thailand) and Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Cam Tu (Vietnam).

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