MANILA—ASEAN Economic Ministers'(AEM) meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the three-day (April 6-8) AEM Roadshow to Japan focused on pursuing free trade through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and making micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) part of the economic growth in the region.
“We discussed adherence to continuing globalization and free trade, limiting protectionism moves, a high quality Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and encourage innovation and inclusive growth and development of MSMEs,” AEM chairman and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a text message.
During the roadshow, led by ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh, the ASEAN trade chiefs also met Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Hiroshige Seko and other government officials of Japan.
Lopez said they would have another round of discussion on Friday, with agenda on trade and investment, innovation, and economic cooperation projects between ASEAN and Japan.
Moreover, AEM will visit Japanese companies in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Wakayama.
Data from the ASEAN Statistics Division (ASEANstats) show that two-way trade between ASEAN and Japan reached USD238 billion in 2015.
ASEAN exported some USD114 billion to Japan while importing over USD124 billion from the East Asian country in the said year.
In the same period, foreign direct investments from Japan in the region pegged at USD17.56 billion, with highest investment inflows to Singapore at USD4.7 billion, Indonesia at USD4.4 billion, and Thailand at USD4.2 billion.
Meanwhile, the Japanese Prime Minister made a state visit to the Philippines in January where he met President Rodrigo Duterte.
Abe’s visit in here was in time for the Philippine chairmanship of ASEAN this year, where he affirmed Japan’s support to the country’s hosting of ASEAN summit.
“As I extended the best wishes of President Duterte, Prime Minister Abe thanked President Duterte again for the very warm hospitality in his visit to Davao last January,” Lopez said.