1. Economic Ministers from the ten ASEAN Member States and Economic Ministers of People’s Republic of China (“China”), Japan, and Republic of Korea (“Korea”) met on 23 August 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the Eighteenth AEM Plus Three Consultations. The Consultations were co-chaired by H.E. Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohammed, Minister of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia, H.E. Gao Hucheng, Minister of Commerce of China, H.E. Yoichi Miyazawa, Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry of Japan, and H.E. Yoon Sang-jick, Minister of Trade, Industry, and Energy of Korea.

2. The Ministers were pleased with trade performance in the region. According to ASEAN Statistics, total trade of ASEAN with Plus Three countries reached USD 727.1 billion in 2014, accounting for 28.8 per cent of total ASEAN trade. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow from Plus Three Countries in 2014 amounted to USD 26.7 billion.

3. The Ministers reiterated that collaboration between ASEAN and Plus Three Countries remained important to keep the economic foundation in the region strong, especially in light of recent global financial instability. The Ministers reaffirmed leaders’ statement that ASEAN Plus One Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with the Plus Three Countries would significantly contribute to enhancing the sustainability of the Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in the region.

4. The Ministers expressed their appreciation to East Asia Business Council (EABC) for the continuous support to promote economic integration in the region. The Ministers noted the report by the EABC on the progress of its activities, and its submission of the recommendations which included, among others, supporting SMEs access to non-collateral financing; enabling SMEs access to project fund under the ASEAN Secretariat; promoting cross-border e-commerce in East Asia; and engaging stakeholders in RCEP negotiations and early conclusion thereof. The Ministers welcomed the inputs and looked forward to further inputs from the private sector to facilitate regional economic integration as envisaged under the RCEP.

Download the full Joint Statement here.