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METI Minister Seko Visits the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam

From September 8 to 15, 2017, Mr. Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, visited Manila, the Philippines, Bangkok, Thailand, and Hanoi, Viet Nam.

In the Philippines, he attended the ASEAN Economic Minister (AEM) - METI Consultation, a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Meeting and other meetings, and also held bilateral meetings with: H.E. Ramon M. Lopez, Secretary of Trade and Industry of the Philippines, chair of ASEAN in 2017; H.E. Mr. Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry of Singapore, expected chair of ASEAN in 2018; H.E. Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce and Industry of India; and H.E. Mr. Steven Ciobo, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment of Australia.

In Thailand, with a mission of approximately 600 members from Japanese companies organized by JETRO, Minister Seko held meetings with: H.E. Mr. Prayuth Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister, H.E. Dr. Somkid Jatusripitak, Deputy Prime Minister, and H.E. Mr. Uttama Savanayana, Minister of Industry. Following this, he attended a symposium focusing on the subject of industrial sophistication in Thailand and other events.

In Viet Nam, Minister Seko held bilateral meetings with: H.E. Mr. Nguyen Duc Chung, Chairman, Ha Noi People’s Committee; H.E. Mr. Hoang Trung Hai, Secretary of the Ha Noi Party Committee; H.E. Mr. Tran Tuan Anh, Minister of Industry and Trade; H.E. Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister; and H.E. Mr. Pham Minh Chinh, President of the Viet Nam-Japan Parliamentary Friendship Association. At each meeting, both sides exchanged frank views concerning the further development of the Japan-Viet Nam relationship.

1. Deepening and expanding Japan-ASEAN economic and industrial cooperation

AEM - METI Consultation

At the AEM - METI Consultation in September 9, member countries showed their gratitude to Japan for organizing the ASEAN Economic Ministers Roadshow (AEM Roadshow) held in April 2017 in Japan. To ASEAN economies celebrating the 50th anniversary of the foundation, Japan proposed an effort toward future Japan-ASEAN cooperation in order to deepen regional economic integration and solve challenges that have become more and more complex and diversified in member economies. Following this, participants exchanged views concerning the details of this issue.

Specifically, Minister Seko proposed an effort titled “ASEAN-Japan Cooperation towards Innovation-led Inclusive Growth,” consisting of the following three pillars:
1)Promotion of ASEAN-Japan collaboration for further innovation,
2)Enhancement of Japan’s support for inclusive growth for MSMEs in ASEAN economies, and
3)Providing support for introduction of RCEP rules that will promote trade.

In particular, concerning the promotion of Japan-ASEAN collaboration towards innovation, Japan proposed the ASEAN-Japan Innovation Platform Concept, in which public-private collaboration efforts will facilitate projects, including projects aimed at developing the Connected Industries policy in ASEAN. Ministers expressed interest in the concept and welcomed its further development.

In addition, the Federation of Japanese Chambers of Commerce and Industry in ASEAN (FJCCIA) presented a series of requests and proposals amalgamated from approximately 7,000 Japanese affiliates in the ASEAN region, to the ASEAN economies. In response, the economies stated that they will endeavor to realize the requests.
Moreover, concerning the ASEAN-JAPAN Innovation Network which is a framework proposed by Minister Seko at the AEM - METI Consultation in 2016 and established with the opportunity provided by the AEM Roadshow in April 2017 with the aim of advancing business collaboration for Japan-ASEAN innovation, the Japan Section of the ASEAN-JAPAN Business Council (AJBC) reported the efforts under the framework, while the ASEAN economies welcomed Japan-ASEAN collaborative business activities.
Furthermore, concerning a Japan-ASEAN Fair, an event proposed by Secretary Lopez at the AEM Roadshow in April 2017, Minister Seko declared that the event would be held during the opportunity provided by an ASEAN-related Summit Meeting to be held in November 2017. Participating countries expressed significant interest regarding this statement.

At the fifth RCEP Ministerial Meeting held in September 10, the Ministers discussed on the way forward concerning the negotiations, after the current state of overall negotiations, in the area of market access in goods, services and investment, as well as rules was reported.

In particular, the Ministers endorsed the Key Elements which cover not only market access but also rules, which were originally proposed by Minister Seko agreed at the intersessional Ministerial Meeting in Hanoi in May 2017, and chief negotiators agreed at the Trade Negotiating Committee in July 2017, Minister Seko stated that Japan will proactively cooperate with the ASEAN economies on human resource developments and institution arrangements for rule-making, e.g., for e-commerce.

The Ministers agreed to make utmost efforts to achieve significant outcomes of the RCEP by the end of 2017 at the Summit Meeting in November 2017.

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RCEP Ministerial Meeting

2. Meetings with participating countries

Minister Seko directly delivered Japan’s Proposal for Formulating Industrial Vision in the Philippines to Secretary Lopez at their bilateral meeting. In response, Secretary Lopez expressed his gratitude for Japan’s contribution to the county, considering the proposal as a reference for industrial policies for the Philippines. At the bilateral meetings with Minister Lim, Minister Prabhu, and Minister Ciobo, Japan received proactive views from each of them concerning a well-balanced conclusion of the RCEP. At the bilateral meeting with Minister Prabhu, Minister Seko was provided with a proposal for formulating common strategies with Japan for dealing with challenges commonly to both Japan and India.

Meeting with Secretary Lopez
Meting with Minister Ciobo

3. Visiting Thailand

Minister Seko visited Thailand with a mission of approximately 600 members from Japanese companies, consisting of: a nation-wide mission organized by JETRO and co-organized by KEIDANREN, the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and SME Support JAPAN; and regional missions of regional Japanese companies from Tokyo, the Kansai region, and Fukuoka, Hokkaido, Toyama, Ehime, Akita, Shimane and Mie Prefectures.

Minister Seko paid courtesy calls to Prime Minister Prayuth on September 11 and Deputy Prime Minister Somkid on September 12. Thailand expressed strong hopes to Japan that Japanese companies, which are contributors to current economic growth in the country, will also play significant roles in achieving industrial sophistication efforts being advanced by Thailand under its policies, e.g., Thailand 4.0 and Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). Moreover, at the meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Somkid, both sides recognized the importance of cooperating in increasing the sophistication of Thailand’s industries by taking advantage of Japan’s Connected Industries concept addressing the fourth industrial revolution. They also shared the recognition of the importance of enhancing connectivity between Thailand and the Mekong region, ASEAN economies and other adjacent regions. In addition, both sides engaged in discussion concerning proposals from Japanese companies on the EEC policy.

On September 12, Minister Seko attended a symposium, bringing together Deputy Prime Minister Somkid, Minister Uttama, and other Thai government officials and industrial players as well as people from related Japanese organizations and industrial players, and held discussions on specific case examples of efforts for industrial sophistication conducted in Thailand under the Connected Industries concept.

On September 13, Minister Seko, with a mission of Japanese companies, visited U-Tapao International Airport located in the EEC. At the airport, Minister Seko held a meeting with Minister Uttama. Both sides engaged in discussions on the importance of opinions offered by Japanese companies and other issues.

Meeting with Prime Minister Prayuth
Courtesy call by Minister Seko and Japanese companies to Prime Minister Prayuth

4. Visiting Viet Nam

In Viet Nam, Minister Seko held bilateral meetings with: Chairman Chung, Secretary Hai, Minister Anh, Prime Minister Phuc, and President Chinh. At the meetings with Chairman Chung and Secretary General Hai, both sides meaningfully exchanged views mainly concerning infrastructure projects and investment environments for Japanese companies in Hanoi.

At the meeting with Minister Anh, both sides concluded a Package of Joint Strategic Cooperation between Japan and Viet Nam, aiming to further promote cooperation based on the agreement concluded at the Second Meeting of the Japan-Viet Nam Joint Committee on Cooperation in Industry, Trade and Energy held in Tokyo in June 2017.

The package consists of three pillars: [ⅰ] enhancement of industrial competitiveness, [ⅱ] capacity building, and [ⅲ] energy and Infrastructure cooperation to support growth.

At the meeting with Minister Phuc, both sides exchanged views concerning regional economic circumstances, including those surrounding RCEP, TPP and APEC. While Japan explained the details of the package concluded with Minister Anh, both sides exchanged views concerning Japan-Viet Nam industrial cooperation. Moreover, at the meeting with President Chinh, both sides exchanged views concerning Japan-Viet Nam economic ties and regional circumstances.

Meeting with Prime Minister Phuc
Meeting with Minister Anh

Release date

September 19, 2017

Divisions in Charge

Information on the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meetings:
Asia and Pacific Division, Trade Policy Bureau
Information on the RCEP
Economic Partnership Division, Trade Policy Bureau
Information on the visit to Thailand:
Asia and Pacific Division, Trade Policy Bureau
Information on the visit to Viet Nam:
Asia and Pacific Division, Trade Policy 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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