The 11th Meeting of the ASEAN-Japan Forum was held in Manila, Philippines on 3-4 October 1989. The Meeting was attended by Mr. Sakutaro Tanino, Director-General of the Asian Affairs Bureau, Japan, Mr. Hj. Yusof bin Hj. Abdul Hamid, Director-General, ASEAN-Brunei Darussalam; Mr. Husni Thamrin Pane, Director-General, ASEAN-Indonesia; Mrs. Solita M. Aguirre, Acting Director-General, ASEAN Philippines; Mr. Ajit Singh, Director-General, ASEAN-Malaysia and Mr. K. Kesavapany, Director-General, ASEAN-Singapore and Dr. Somkiati Ariyapruchya, Deputy Director-General, ASEAN-Thailand and their respective delegations. Mr. Rusli Noor, Secretary-General of the ASEAN Secretariat, the Chairmen of the ASEAN Committee on Trade and Tourism and Committee on Investment, Minerals and Energy and representatives from the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology, the ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information, the ASEAN Committee on Social Development, the ASEAN Committee on Industry, Minerals and Energy and the ASEAN Committee on Transportation and Communications were also present.
Honorable Manuel T. Yan, Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines opened the 11th ASEAN-Japan Forum.
Counsellor Solita M. Aguirre, Acting Director-General of ASEAN-Philippines led the ASEAN delegations. The Japanese delegation was led by Mr. Sakutaro Tanino, Director-General, Asian Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan.
In his Keynote Address, the Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs, stated that the necessary framework designed to fortify ASEAN-Japan cooperation was sharpened with the launching of Japan’s International Cooperation Initiative (ICI). He, however, stressed that the elements of the ICI should be translated into more concrete terms and that the future of the ASEAN-Japan Fora could be indicative of further successes or need for closer observance of the ICI in the ASEAN region.
After thanking Japan for the various forms of assistance it has extended to ASEAN’s socio-cultural and scholarship training projects, Undersecretary Yan indicated that ASEAN would reiterate some pressing and important trade concerns with Japan. Undersecretary Yan expressed the hope that the new phase in ASEAN-Japan relations would be characterized by openness and progressiveness as it enters the decade of the nineties. He expressed confidence that with ASEAN’s endeavours to actively pursue better economic opportunities for the development of the region and Japan’s enhanced capabilities and policy of Japan Contributing to a Better World, “the time is most propituous for ASEAN and Japan to achieve concrete results in their collaborative efforts to preserve and enhance a prosperous and peaceful Southeast Asian region”, an environment that augurs well for the continued progress and prosperity of Japan.
The Meeting reviewed ASEAN-Japan dialogue relations, particularly the activities that were undertaken during the past year. The Meeting discussed international economic issues, with particular attention to the Uruguay Round of the Multilateral Trade Negotiations (MTN) and the Meeting of the Industrialised Countries (G-7) in Paris in July 1989; trade issues and related matters; commodity issues as well as issues related to investments and industrial cooperation and financial cooperation issues. The Meeting also reviewed the cultural cooperation programs between ASEAN and Japan.
The status and progress of development cooperation projects assisted by Japan under its various schemes such as the Japan-ASEAN Cooperation Promotion Programme (JACPP), the ASEAN-Japan Exchange Project (JAEP) and the Inter ASEAN Technical Exchange Program (IATEP) were also considered and assessed.
In the discussions on the Uruguay Round (UR) of the MTN, ASEAN urged Japan to continue its support to ASEAN in the UR deliberations and to play a more constructive role in expediting the process of the post-Montreal negotiations, taking into account the sectors of priority interest to ASEAN such as issues relating to standstill and rollback commitments, agriculture, tropical products, tariffs and non-tariff barriers.
Japan expressed its intention to contribute, in close cooperation with ASEAN countries, to the progress of the negotiations so that a substantive agreement could be achieved by the end of 1990 as scheduled.
On commodity issues, ASEAN reiterated to Japan the importance of improving cooperative efforts in areas of common concern such as the development of resource-based industries, research and development activities for certain commodities and the Common Fund for Commodities. Japan recognized the significance of commodities to ASEAN’s economy and expressed willingness to cooperate with ASEAN countries in these areas. Problems relating to commodity trade patterns and market access were also discussed, particularly the concern to liberalize the Japanese market on processed and semi-processed commodity-based products from ASEAN.
ASEAN noted that despite the various market opening measures undertaken by Japan, ASEAN exports, in particular manufactured products to Japan, have not significantly improved. In this respect, ASEAN urged Japan to continue its efforts to improve its market access for products of interest to ASEAN, particularly improvements to its GSP scheme and liberalization of its import policies, procedures and documentation. Japan explained that it has been making and would continue to make its best possible efforts for the improvement of its market access for ASEAN products in various fields, including GSP. Japan pointed out that such efforts, coupled with ASEAN’s own export promotion efforts, resulted in an increase in Japanese imports of manufactured goods from ASEAN countries by 49% over the previous year. Japan expressed its readiness to hold a Trade Experts’ Meeting a day before or even at an earlier time before the 12th ASEAN Japan Forum.
In recognition of the important role played by the private sector in the developmental process, ASEAN and Japan agreed on private sector participation starting from the 12th ASEAN-Japan Forum to be held in 1990 in Japan.
Japan noted with gratification that the amount of its direct investment in ASEAN countries in FY 1988 increased by 78% over the previous year. ASEAN noted with appreciation Japan’s increased direct investments – manifesting its confidence in ASEAN’s potentials. However, ASEAN urged a bigger share of Japan’s total overseas investments with the request that it take active measures to attain this objective such as relocation of Japanese industries which are heavily dependent on raw material supply, to the ASEAN region. Both sides expressed the hope that the upward trend would continue and that more Japanese enterprises would actively participate in the ASEAN Industrial Joint Ventures (AIJV) and the Brand-to-Brand Complementation Schemes.
On financial cooperation, the For .um noted that to date only Malaysia has implemented the Agreement on the ASEAN-Japan Development Fund (AJDF) while Thailand and Indonesia have recently reached agreements with Japan on the AJDF. ASEAN reiterated the need for an early agreement between Japan and the other ASEAN member countries so that the AJDF could be fully effected in the ASEAN region.
ASEAN reiterated to Japan its concern over the continuing appreciation of the Yen and called on Japan to implement policy measures that would further alleviate problems associated with the Yen’s appreciation, including the burden of debt servicing. Recognising this concern, Japan stated that it has twice reduced its interest rates on its ODA resulting in the 1.0% reduction on the average and that it hopes to contribute to the substantial alleviation of the debt burden by, among others, further extension of ODA loans.
ASEAN and Japan deliberated on aspects of development cooperation. Pending proposals were discussed and new projects were presented. ASEAN expressed the hope that development cooperation projects could be implemented more expeditiously. ASEAN also urged Japan to be more flexible in considering ASEAN project proposals for funding under its existing development aid programmes. Japan, on its part, requested ASEAN to submit new project proposals within the existing cooperation schemes, as far as possible.
In presenting to Japan a status report on the various projects under its cooperation scheme with Japan, ASEAN also reiterated its gratitude for the continuous support it had provided to these projects. Japan expressed its satisfaction that a wide range of cooperation between ASEAN and Japan had already resulted in concrete projects in various areas such as economic cooperation and cultural exchange.
With regard to cooperation in the years to come, ASEAN expressed its hope that they can work together in enhancing regional economic cooperation, resolving environmental issues and meeting ASEAN’s needs in the field of technology. Japan expressed its readiness to study relevant proposals of ASEAN.
The delegates from Japan, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand expressed their appreciation to the Government of the Philippines for hosting the 11th Meeting of ASEAN-Japan Forum and for the hospitality extended to them.
The 12th Meeting of the ASEAN-Japan Forum would be held in Japan in 1990 at a date to be mutually agreed upon.