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METI Minister Seko Visits the Republic of Singapore

September 3, 2018

From August 29 (Wed.) to September 1 (Sat.), 2018, Mr. Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, visited the Republic of Singapore to attend the 10th Mekong-Japan Economic Ministers Meeting, the 24th ASEAN Economic Minister (AEM) – METI Consultations, the 21st AEM Plus Three Consultations and the Sixth Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Meeting. Taking this opportunity, Minister Seko held bilateral meetings with: H.E. Mr. Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry, Singapore; H.E. Mr. Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Australia; H.E. Mr. Shri Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce and Industry, India; and H.E. Mr. James Gordon Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification, Canada.

1. The 10h Mekong-Japan Economic Ministers Meeting

Minister Seko proposed the formulation of the Mekong Industrial Development Vision (MIDV) 2.0 by revising the existing MIDV. This proposal aims to accelerate cooperation among member countries in certain fields, such as development of hard infrastructure and facilitation of trade procedures, from the viewpoint that Japan encourages the Mekong sub-region to address changes in surrounding environments, such as advancement of the digital economy and further integration of regional economies, and also to enhance its attractiveness. Participating ministers agreed on the formulation of MIDV 2.0 by convening a Mekong-Japan Economic Ministers Meeting in the summer of 2019.


2. The 24th AEM-METI Consultations

Participating ministers agreed to accelerate the relevant domestic processes in the member countries with a view to signing of the First Protocol to Amend the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP) Agreement to incorporate the Chapters on Trade in Services at the sidelines of the 21st ASEAN-Japan Summit in November 2018.

Minister Seko proposed the ASEAN-Japan Fourth Industrial Revolution Initiative, which includes the following efforts:

The participating ministers welcomed the proposal.

Moreover, Minister Seko stated the importance of WTO reform, and participating ministers reaffirmed support for the rules-based multilateral trading system.


3. The 21st AME Plus Three Consultations

Amidst rising trade tensions, participating ministers reaffirmed the importance of a rules-based multilateral trading system. Japan proposed holding a seminar in Thailand in 2019 for countermeasures against counterfeit products under the framework of ASEAN+3 (i.e., Japan, China and the ROK). Participating ministers welcomed this proposal.

4. The 6th RCEP Ministerial Meeting

At the RCEP Ministerial Meeting held between August 30 and 31, 2018, participating ministers adopted a Package of Year-End Deliverables and agreed that the member countries should aim at a substantial conclusion to the RCEP negotiations through achieving each of the targets in the Package.

In addition, in light of the results of the discussions at the RCEP Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo in July 2018, the ministers focused on approaches to solving remaining political points of contention and intensively discussed this issue at a plenary session in a format called “minister plus one negotiator” and at Japan-ASEAN bilateral meetings. These discussions resulted in significant progress.


5. Bilateral meetings

Aiming to discuss approaches to advancing the RCEP-related issues mainly at the sixth RCEP Ministerial Meeting, Minister Seko held bilateral meetings with: Minister Chan, Singapore, a chair of the Sixth RCEP Ministerial Meeting; Minister Birmingham, Australia; and Minister Prabhu, India.

In addition, Minister Seko exchanged views with Minister Prabhu and Minister Carr, Canada, concerning bilateral cooperation projects and efforts under multilateral frameworks, for e.g., the WTO and G20.


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