Japan-ASEAN trade jumps 27% to $204B as new 10-year economic partnership readied

Total two-way trade between Japan and ASEAN grew 27% to $203.9 billion in 2010. Foreign direct investment from Japan to the region surged by 124% to $8.4 billion last year from $3.8 billion in 2009.

A 10-term plan is now being discussed by Japan and ASEAN economic ministers to promote "strategic partnerships in the areas of trade and investment, infrastructure development, connectivity, human resources development and technology transfer among others."

According to Kyodo News which has seen a draft, a statement on the plan will be issued after the annual ASEAN Economic Ministers meeting, on 13 August in Manado, Indonesia.

The draft also said the ministers aim to strike a deal in the negotiations between the two sides to liberalise their trade in services and investment under a free trade deal known as the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement by next year, suggesting there could be a further delay in wrapping up their negotiations.

"The Ministers tasked senior officials to strive for a conclusion of these negotiations in tandem by" their next meeting or the ASEAN-Japan leaders' summit in 2012 "as an aspirational goal" the news agency quoted.

Although ASEAN and Japan signed the AJCEP in 2008, key elements such as trade in services, investment, movement of business persons, government procurement and intellectual property were not ready.

An ASEAN official source said the proposal was floated by Japan in recent months and signals the possibility of a new wave of Japanese investments in the region.