ASEAN, China, Japan, S. Korea call for open trade system

Leaders from the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) chaired by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte along with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and People’s Republic of China Premier Li Keqiang do the ASEAN hand shake as they pose for a photo prior to the start of the 20th ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Commemorative Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center on November 14, 2017. Representing Brunei Darussalam is the Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office and Finance Minister II Pehin Dato Abdul Rahman Ibrahim while Lao People’s Democratic Republic is represented by Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Alounkeo Kittikhoun. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA — Japan, China, South Korea and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have emphasized the need to pursue an open trading system for the region to allow sustainable growth of trade and investments.

In a joint statement released on Monday, the ASEAN and the Plus Three Countries noted that in 2016 alone, total merchandise trade between the 13 states amounted to USD694.2 billion or 31 percent of the bloc’s total merchandise trade.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows from the Plus Three Countries into ASEAN, meanwhile, was valued at USD27.1 billion, accounting for 27.6 percent of the total FDI inflow to ASEAN.

“We emphasized the need to pursue an open trading system for the region that would allow sustainable growth of trade and investments,” it said.

On the other hand, the 13 nations said it will continue cooperation on economic issues as it encouraged closer collaboration on ASEAN’s new priorities and projects through the adopted ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Economic Cooperation Work Programme ‎2017-2018, covering areas such as connectivity, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) development, trade facilitation, and e-commerce.

The work program reinforces the foundation for enhanced economic relations, through sustained dialogue and consultations and technical cooperation activities between ASEAN and the Plus Three countries.

During their meeting in Manila, the state leaders recognized the important role of private sector in enhancing economic cooperation in the East Asian region and noted the efforts made by the East Asia Business Council (EABC) in supporting MSMEs to capture and maximize the opportunities offered by digital trade and to find new ways of doing business.

On research, they acknowledged the countries’ continuous business engagements including through the conduct of relevant research studies.

“We welcomed the collaboration among the EABC, ASEAN-China Centre, ASEAN-Japan Centre, and ASEAN-Korea Centre to extend the reach of cooperation in the context of the APT in order to increase trade and investment,” it said.

In setting long-term goals of regional integration, they noted the proposal to study the next phase of East Asia Vision Group III to include a focus on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. (PNA)