The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and trading partners Japan, China and South Korea have emphasized the need to pursue an open trading system for the region.
In a joint statement released on Monday, the ASEAN +3 noted that in 2016 alone, total merchandise trade between the 13 states amounted to $694.2 billion or 31 percent of the bloc’s total merchandise trade.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) flows from Japan, China and South Korea into Asean, meanwhile, was valued at $27.1 billion, accounting for 27.6 percent of the total FDI inflow to the regional bloc.
“We emphasized the need to pursue an open trading system for the region that would allow sustainable growth of trade and investments,” it said.
The 13 nations said they would continue cooperation on economic issues and encouraged closer collaboration on Asean’s new priorities and projects through the adopted ASEAN +3 (APT) Economic Cooperation Work Program for 2017-2018, covering areas such as connectivity; micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) 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 the ASEAN +3 countries.
During a meeting in Manila, state leaders recognized the important role of the private sector in enhancing economic cooperation and noted the efforts made by the East Asia Business Council (EABC) to support MSMEs
“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,” the statement noted.
Also cited was a proposal to study the next phase of the East Asia Vision Group III to include a focus on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.