Oct 27, 2021 / 18:55

ASEAN, Japan to stabilize supply chains

The two-way trade between ASEAN and Japan reached US$204 billion in 2020.

ASEAN and Japan need to coordinate to stabilize supply chains disrupted by Covid-19, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh made the statement at the 24th ASEAN-Japan Summit held via videoconference on Oct 27. 

 Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at the event. Photo: VNA

To do that, ASEAN member states, including Vietnam will facilitate Japan’s businesses operating in the region, Chinh said at the Brunei-host event gathering ASEAN’s leaders.

He suggested that Japan continue to assist ASEAN in narrowing the development gaps among areas, including the Mekong sub-region through the Mekong-Japan Cooperation Framework.

In addition, Chinh requested Japan to assist ASEAN countries and Vietnam in developing infrastructure, green growth and digital transformation and supporting businesses in post-pandemic recovery.

Chinh highlighted the significance of promoting cooperation, building trust, and responding to emerging challenges in maintaining a peaceful and stable environment in the region, including the East Sea and the South China Sea, and the Korean Peninsula.

He welcomed Japan’s active contributions to maintaining stability, security, and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea through dialogues and responsible behavior to uphold international law and UNCLOS 1982, the framework that regulates maritime and ocean activities.

In the fight against Covid-19, the Vietnamese PM appreciated Japan’s support and expected the countries to continue prioritizing recovery efforts, including improving their capacity to respond to health emergencies in the future.

  Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and leaders of ASEAN member states at the 24th ASEAN-Japan Summit on Oct 27. Photo: Kyodo

Japan – one of the biggest donors for ASEAN’s recovery efforts

Addressing the event, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tokyo has provided JPY192 billion (US$1.69 billion) worth of soft loans to ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF).

The East Asian country has also extended its support to the ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (AC-PHEED) in the same course of recovery,

Regarding the pandemic fight, Japan has donated more than 16 million doses of vaccine and granted roughly JPY32 billion ($281.6 million) to the 10-member bloc over the past time, Kishida said at the event that marked his first appearance in an ASEAN gathering since taking office earlier this month.

At the 23rd ASEAN-Japan Summit held in November 2020, Japan pledged to fund $50 million for AC-PHEED.

Kishida affirmed Japan’s commitments to narrowing development gaps among ASEAN member states while promoting sub-region development to mitigate Covid-19 impact and to invest in climate adaptation and green growth in the region.

The leaders appreciated Japan’s Covid relief and efforts to maintain the two-way trade that reached $204 billion in 2020 and Japanese investment in ASEAN which climbed to $8.5 billion in the same year.

In a broader move, Kishida vowed to strengthen Japan’s cooperation with the region as part of its efforts to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific region amid China’s rise, according to The Japan Times.

Noting his past efforts to enhance Japan’s ties with ASEAN when he served as foreign minister between 2012 and 2017, Kishida said at the outset of the meeting that he continues to appreciate the relationship between Japan and the association.

“This time, as prime minister, I will closely work with ASEAN and strongly promote efforts toward realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Kishida.

He went on to say that Japan will steadily promote cooperation on the ASEAN Outlook in the Indo-Pacific, an initiative aimed at maintaining peace, freedom, and prosperity in the region that matches Japan’s vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

On this occasion, Kishida said Japan plans to hold a special summit in 2023 to mark the 50th year of ASEAN-Japan friendship and cooperation. It is expected to take the relationship to a “new stage.”

The session marked an exchange of views among ASEAN leaders on the situation in the South China Sea, where China is increasing its assertiveness, as well as on North Korea and Myanmar.