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METI Minister Seko Visits the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam and the Republic of the Philippines

From November 7 to 13, 2017, Mr. Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, visited Da Nang, Viet Nam, and Manila, the Philippines.

In Viet Nam, he attended the 2017 APEC Ministerial Meeting and also held bilateral meetings with: H.E. Mr. Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Brunei Darussalam; H.E. Mr. Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO); H.E. Mr. David Parker, Minister for Trade and Export Growth, New Zealand; H.E. Mr. Maksim Oreshkin, Minister of Economic Development, Russia; H.E. Mr. Steven Ciobo, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Australia; H.E. Mr. Tran Tuan Anh, Minister of Industry and Trade, Viet Nam; and H.E. Mr. Enggartiasto Lukita, Minister of Trade, Indonesia. In addition, on November 10, he attended summit meetings between Japan and Viet Nam and between Japan and Russia.

In the Philippines, he attended an ASEAN Economic Minister(AEM)- METI Consultation and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Meeting, and also held a bilateral meeting with H.E. Mr. Ramon M. Lopez, Secretary of Trade and Industry, the Philippines.

1. APEC Ministerial Meeting

Under the chairmanship of H.E. Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Minister Anh, Viet Nam, participants proactively exchanged opinions under the themes "creating new dynamism for regional economic integration" and "new dynamism for growth."

Minister Seko made the following proposals and statements concerning APEC efforts, and many economies agreed.

(1)Concerning the theme "creating new dynamism for regional economic integration," Minister Seko focused on three issues: realization of free and fair trade rules, promotion of digital trade, and promotion of quality infrastructures, mainly communicating the following.

  • He stressed that ministers should clearly demonstrate their commitment to fighting protectionism and promoting free trade, and that ministers need to establish high-level free and fair trade rules and broaden the level playing field.
  • He pointed out the importance of enhancing the multilateral trading system based on the rules placing the WTO at the core and conducting quality rule-making in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • He also stated that member countries should accelerate efforts in the digital field and aim to achieve the free flow of information.
  • He explained Japan's efforts, including review and capacity building involving legal systems related to infrastructure development and proposals made for improving the APEC Guidebook on Quality Infrastructure Development and Investment, and stated that Japan intends to accelerate development of quality infrastructure.

(2) Concerning another theme, "new dynamism for growth," Minister Seko communicated Japan's positions concerning: enhancement of MSME competitiveness, reform of state-owned companies in the process of promoting structural economic reforms, promotion of a diversity management policy, including promoting empowerment of women, efforts allowing the APEC region to access various types of inexpensive and reliable energy to improve and advance economic growth and security in the region, and expansion of LNG markets in Asia.

Japan's statements were fully reflected in the Joint Ministerial Statement and the Leaders' Declaration, such as support for the multilateral trading system, fighting against protectionism, securing of a level playing field, and promotion of quality infrastructures.

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2. Bilateral meetings

(1)Meeting with Minister Lim, Brunei Darussalam
Both sides exchanged views concerning the RCEP. Minister Lim showed his gratitude for the long-standing bilateral cooperation in the fields of oil and gas and other ties, and praised Japan's leadership in the trade negotiations.
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(2)Meeting with Director-General Azevêdo, WTO
With Mr. Taro Kono, Minister of Foreign Affairs, both sides exchanged views concerning efforts for making the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC11) in December 2017 successful. Minister Seko stressed the importance of making progress in the area of e-commerce in order for the WTO to demonstrate that it can adress the challenges of the 21st century. Director-General Azevêdo expressed his expectations for Japan's leadership in promoting free trade.
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(3)Meeting with Minister Parker, New Zealand
Both sides agreed on intense cooperation to ensure the direction for free trade in the Asia-Pacific region.
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(4)Meeting with Minister Oreshkin, Russia
At the beginning of the meeting, both sides signed a memorandum of cooperation in the field of SMEs and also confirmed the remarkable progress made in advancing specific details of the eight-point cooperation plan, e.g., over 100 documents concluded in the private sector between Japan and Russia. Moreover, both sides confirmed that Japan and Russia will further clarify the plan in accordance with the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum held in May 2018, and that they will enhance cooperation by setting new goals towards improving labor productivity and the achievement of a digital economy.
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(5)Meeting with Minister Ciobo, Australia
Both sides exchanged views concerning the APEC Ministerial Meeting, free trade in the Asia-Pacific region, and MC11 in December 2017. In particular, they confirmed that concerning MC11 they will cooperatively lead discussions in order to make achievements in the field of e-commerce that both countries prioritize.
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(6)Meeting with Minister Anh, Viet Nam
Both sides exchanged views concerning regional economic ties and bilateral cooperation, based on the solid relationship between Japan and Viet Nam. In particular, Japan honored Minister Anh for his leadership as an APEC chair over this year. Following this, both sides signed a memorandum of cooperation in the field of energy, as one of the achievements under the Package of Joint Strategic Cooperation concluded by the ministers in September 2017.
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(7)Meeting with Minister Enggartiasto, Indonesia
Both sides exchanged views for a short time concerning Japan-ASEAN economic ties.
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(8)Meeting with Secretary Lopez, the Philippines
Minister Seko expressed his gratitude to Secretary Lopez for his efforts as an ASEAN chair, and both sides agreed on the acceleration of negotiations for concluding a quality RCEP. Secretary Lopez expressed his gratitude to Minister Seko for Japan’s cooperation in efforts for RCEP and its contribution to the Japan-ASEAN Fair, an event launched to enhance collaboration between Japanese companies and ASEAN companies.
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(9)Other meetings
At individual meetings, Minister Seko exchanged views for a short time each with several missions and asserted Japan's position that member countries should make efforts ensure the success of MC11.

3. Ceremony for appointing "Monodzukuri Jinzai Ambassador"

Witnessed by Minister Seko, the Association for Overseas Technical Cooperation and Sustainable Partnership (AOTS) appointed Mr. Tuan, President of the Alumni Association of AOTS, as a "Monodzukuri Jinzai Ambassador" for his contribution to human resource development in the industrial area in Viet Nam and for proactively deploying activities for industrial development in the country.

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4. ASEAN Economic Minister (AEM) - METI consultation Meeting

At the AEM - METI Consultation on November 12, participants welcomed the finalization of negotiations at ministerial-level on the protocol to amend the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (AJCEP) to incorporate the Chapters on trade in service and investment. Accordingly, member countries will advance examination of legal matters aiming at the early conclusion of the revised protocol.

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5. RCEP Ministerial Meeting

At the RCEP Ministerial Meeting on November 12, Ministers assessed the progress of RCEP negotiations and discussed approaches to advancing future negotiations in order to report it to the RCEP Summit on November 14, 2017.

The RCEP negotiations have been advancing based on the Key Elements, which were proposed by Minister Seko in May 2017 and endorsed by Ministers of participating countries in September 2017. The key elements are the elements to achieve in each negotiation area by the end of this year. At this meeting, Ministers confirmed the progress made on the key elements as well as challenges in the future.

Moreover, concerning the acceleration of future negotiations, Minister Seko proposed that member countries consider their flexibilities in discussing related issues(e.g., by setting transitional periods for implementation), and hold an interim meeting to discuss issues focusing on specific fields so as to achieve quality rules. Participating countries agreed on these proposals.

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Release date

November 14, 2017

Division in Charge

Information on the APEC Ministerial Meeting:
APEC Office, Trade Policy Bureau
Information on the AEM - METI Consultation and the RCEP:
Economic Partnership Division, Trade Policy Bureau
Information on the meeting with Director-General Azevêdo, WTO:
Multilateral Trade System Department, Trade Policy Bureau
Information on the bilateral meetings with Brunei Darussalam, New Zealand, Australia, Viet Nam, Indonesia and the Philippines:
Asia and Pacific Division, Trade Policy Bureau
Information on the bilateral meeting with Russia:
Europe Division, Trade Policy Bureau
Information on the Ceremony for Appointing Monozukuri Human Resource Ambassadors:
Technical Cooperation Division, Trade and Economic Cooperation Bureau
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
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