Jakarta, 15 February 2011

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Over 40 Japanese industry and commerce heavyweights visited the ASEAN Secretariat yesterday to exchange views with the Secretary-General of ASEAN on how they can contribute to ASEAN’s community building efforts and goal of being a well-connected region by 2015. The Japan Business Federation, Nippon Keidanren, delegation was led by Chairman Yonekura Hiromasa.

The Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, paid particular thanks for Japan’s readiness to contribute to the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity. Adopted in October last year, the Master Plan is ASEAN’s response to the region’s needs for an improved physical, institutional and people-to-people connection within and with the rest of the world. “The Master Plan is part of ASEAN’s strategy to meet the expectations of the global market and the increasing importance of East Asia,” said Dr Surin. From the conception of the Master Plan, ASEAN also received “instrumental” support from Japan through ERIA (Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia), he added.

The Secretary-General stated he hoped to see more public-private partnerships, where the private sector works with the governments “through various innovative modalities.” He further said that any modality proposed by ASEAN should appeal to the market and be presented in the “language of the market,” implying that the projects need to bring in profits to the investors.

Both sides further exchanged ideas on the way forward to address the funding of the projects under the Master Plan.

Japan, a Dialogue Partner of ASEAN since 1977, has been among ASEAN’s top trading partners, with total trade between the two sides reaching US$ 160.2 billion in 2009. Likewise, Japan has always been the top-ranked source of foreign direct investments for ASEAN, registering US$ 5.2 billion in 2009.