Day 3 of the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit was an ‘all-star’ day. Following an opening speech by Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon and the ASEAN-Republic of Korea session presenting CEOs of leading companies in the two regions, the summit participants were welcoming Yukio Edano, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan and Yoshihiko Noda, Prime Minister of Japan.
Prime Minister Noda gave a sympathy speech ensuring that the tsunami disaster has proven that Japanese people are resilient. The Japanese economy is expected to grow at 2.3% in 2012, much faster that a large number of economies in the world. The disaster has unleashed some potentials that Japan has including the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The predicted growth rate is not only because of the aftermath reconstruction projects but a result of new innovation. Prime Minister Noda claimed
“Recovery is not only restoration of the past”.
After opening his speech by thanking ASEAN countries for their help in post-tsunami recovery, Minister Edano focused his speech on how to further extend economic links between Japan and ASEAN. The inclusion of the ASEAN-Japan panel in the summit is crucial to further improve relationships between the two regions. The Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between ASEAN and Japan was signed on 08 October 2003 in Bali, Indonesia.
Minister Edano viewed that the first pillar to extend economic partnerships between ASEAN and Japan is to strengthen economic integration. Japan is commited to speed up economic regional integration in East Asia which involves not only Japan and ASEAN but also China and India. Japan is one of ASEAN’s most important trading partners, with total trade between the two exceeding US$ 160 billion in 2009.
Secondly, Minister Edano emphasised the importance of economic connectivity and infrastructure development. ASEAN and Japan Leaders were encouraged to support the development of an ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity and an infrastructure development fund for ASEAN. Japan has been one of the top investors in ASEAN, with close to US$ 6 billion in the same year. There are two new programs that Japan is currently undertaking. The first program is focused on developing human resources. Human capital is essential vehicle of developing infrastructure and to make use of technology. The second program is to build a disaster prevention network. Japan has already started a partnership in this area with Viet Nam and is looking forward to working with more countries in the region.
Last but not least, Japan is committed to contribute to sustainable development by sharing technology that they have invented with other ASEAN countries. This initiative should be well-appreciated given the fact that many developed countries are reluctant to transfer their technology and knowledge to developing countries due to poor protection of Intellectual and Property Rights in some ASEAN countries including Indonesia.
This article is prepared by Risti Permani.
See the Prime Minister’s full-text here.