The Secretary-General of ASEAN Dr. Surin Pitsuwan hailed the completion of signing of the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP) Agreement following five years of substantive negotiations between the ASEAN Member States and Japan.

The signing of the AJCEP Agreement brings to three the number of free trade agreements signed by ASEAN with a major Dialogue Partner of ASEAN.  ASEAN had earlier signed the Trade in Goods and Trade in Services Agreements with China and the Republic of Korea. Dr. Surin said that “the signing adds another milestone in ASEAN’s economic engagement with its Dialogue Partners and the three agreements collectively will set the stage for bringing to a higher level the ASEAN Plus Three economic cooperation”.

The AJCEP Agreement is ASEAN’s first economic partnership agreement that is comprehensive in scope. It covers such fields as trade in goods, trade in services, investment, and economic cooperation.

“With the AJCEP, we hope to encourage regional cumulation that will benefit Japanese investors like Toyota, Mitsubishi and Sony, which are operating and have huge investments in ASEAN countries, and ASEAN supporting industries as well ”, Dr. Surin said.  As more investors come to ASEAN through the Free Trade Area, the economic divide among the estimated 693 million people in ASEAN and Japan is expected to be narrowed.  From 2002 to 2006, the total FDI from Japan in ASEAN reached US$ 30.8 billion.

As a next step to the signing of the AJCEP Agreement, ASEAN Member States and Japan will start their respective domestic procedures necessary for entry into force of the Agreement. 

ASEAN Member States and Japan look forward to the early entry into force of the AJCEP Agreement, which will provide a strong impetus for further invigoration of trade and investment in the region.

ASEAN Member States comprise Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.