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The ASEAN Economic Minister (AEM)-METI Consultation and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Meeting to be Held

September 3, 2019

On September 7 and 8, 2019, the 25th ASEAN Economic Minister (AEM)-METI Consultation and the 7th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Meeting will be held in Thailand.

As a representatives of Japan, Mr. Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, will attend these two meetings.

At the AEM-METI Consultation, Japan will propose the creation of further discussion opportunities for accelerating the ASEAN-Japan Fourth Industrial Revolution Initiative, which Japan first suggested in 2018.

At the RCEP Ministerial Meeting, in response to the leaders’ agreement reached in 2018, participating ministers will hold discussions toward the conclusion of RCEP negotiations by the end of 2019.

Outline of the AEM - METI Consultation

The AEM-METI Consultation is an important occasion for economic diplomacy for the ministers of 10 growing ASEAN economies and Japan. At the 25th consultation, Japan will propose the creation of an opportunity in which participating countries can hold discussions on development of environments toward social implementation of digital innovations, which are dramatically advancing, as an effort for accelerating the ASEAN-Japan Fourth Industrial Revolution Initiative, which Japan first suggested in 2018.

Reference: ASEAN-Japan Fourth Industrial Revolution Initiative

At the AEM-METI consultation in 2018, Minister Seko proposed to advance cooperation along with the following three pillars and ASEAN economies welcomed the proposal.

  1. “Upgrading of industries” that are tailored to the digital economy;
  2. “Spreading the benefits to a wide variety of entities,” including SMEs; and
  3. “Facilitating introduction/implementation of relevant rules” that are tailored to the new age.

Outline of the RCEP

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed economic partnership under negotiation among ten ASEAN economies and six countries (Japan, China, ROK, Australia, New Zealand, and India; hereinafter referred to as the “FTA partner countries”).

Background

  1. In November 2012, at the ceremony to launch negotiations for RCEP which was during the ASEAN-related Summit Meetings, leaders of the ASEAN economies and FTA partner countries announced the launch of RCEP negotiations. In May 2013, the first negotiation round was held in Brunei Darussalam. Participating countries have held 15 ministerial meetings and 27 negotiation rounds so far.
  2. At the RCEP ministerial meeting in March 2018, Minister Seko stated that Japan agreed with ASEAN economies to conclude RCEP by the end of 2018 if the economies secure a certain level of quality for RCEP.
  3. In July 2018, Japan hosted an RCEP ministerial meeting in Tokyo, the first time a non-ASEAN economy served as host. Under the co-chairmanship of Minister Seko and Minister Chan, Singapore, participating countries held discussions on specific approaches to leading efforts to the conclusion of RCEP negotiations. They decided to discuss the issue at a ministerial meeting in August 2018, simulating a package of outcomes that would be compiled at the end of 2018.
  4. In August 2018, an RCEP ministerial meeting was held in Singapore and participating countries agreed that they will aim at “substantial conclusion” of the RCEP negotiations by achieving field-based goals as a package by the end of 2018.
  5. In October 2018, an RCEP ministerial meeting was held in Singapore and participating ministers assessed the progress in the RCEP negotiations and intensively discussed the remaining political points of contention toward the “substantial conclusion” of the negotiations by the end of 2018. They provided guidance on individual political points to the working-level officials.
  6. In November 2018, an RCEP ministerial meeting and an RCEP summit meeting were held. As an outcome, the leaders issued a joint leader’s statement, welcomed the substantial progress in the RCEP negotiations in 2018, and presented a resolution to conclude the RCEP negotiations in 2019.
  7. In March 2019, an RCEP ministerial meeting was held in Cambodia and participating countries confirmed the progress in negotiations involving market access and rules. In particular, they agreed that the member countries will hold additional negotiation meetings on the fields about which discussions should be accelerated and that they will hold the next ministerial meeting in August 2019.
  8. In August 2019, an RCEP ministerial meeting was held in China and participating ministers held frank discussions on both fields of market access and rules toward the conclusion of RCEP negotiations by the end of 2019. They instructed the working-level officials to seek realistic and solution-oriented approaches.

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