Since its establishment, the trade promotion activities of the ASEAN-Japan Centre until recently focused on introducing potential products from the ASEAN Member States to Japan by organizing trade exhibitions with business meetings. In FY2016, the Centre expanded its scope and intensified its efforts on promoting exports from the ASEAN Member States to Japan through research and policy-oriented and capacity-building activities.
Promoting Services Trade
In view of the fact that services trade is important for further integration of ASEAN, the Centre has launched a multi-year regional project in FY2016 featuring a special emphasis on producer services, which are an important source of competitiveness of the country.
Since then, the Centre has produced seven technical papers and organized four seminars on seven service sectors, namely trade in professional services, R&D services, computer and related services, telecommunication services, courier services, transport services and tourism services. The technical papers on promoting trade in respective services, including policy recommendations discussed at the seminars, were posted on the Centre’s website, contributing to the ASEAN Economic Community process in the area of the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) and ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement (ATISA).
In FY2018, as the next phase of the promoting services trade work programme, the Centre will focus on social services in health, education and environment. A seminar/workshop on these sectors will be planned for government officials and business persons, after the technical papers are prepared. As a follow-up activities for the first seven services sectors, the Centre will evaluate the progress of the policy recommendations made for ASEAN Member States since the publication and the seminars. The Centre will also collect information on restrictive measures in one of these services sectors as a pilot study to come up with further policy recommendations to facilitate the free flow of services in the region.
New Forms of Trade between ASEAN and Japan
Non-equity modes (NEM) of trade are becoming a new trend in global trade . As this type of operation by firms intensifies regional integration, the Centre promotes this new form of trade by measuring its scale, understanding the phenomenon and providing policy suggestions on how to maximize benefits from and minimize risks with NEM of operation between the ASEAN Member States and Japan.
This is a multi-year regional project started in FY2016. Following work on the Philippines, Myanmar, and Vietnam in previous years, studies for Lao PDR, Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia are being undertaken in FY2018. A series of country seminars on NEM will be held where the ASEAN Member States will discuss not only findings and policy recommendations on NEM today in respective member states, but also the methodology to collect data on NEM. The focused NEM modes are international subcontracting, international franchising, contract farming and licensing.
Through a total of 10 country papers, and 10 seminars on NEM, the latest NEM-related issues will be identified, and the outputs and results will be shared by all stakeholders, resulting in increasing awareness towards NEM and formulating appropriate policies on NEM in trade.
Promoting Trade in Creative Industries
The Centre launched a two-year regional program, ASEAN Design Selection as a part of Japan’s prestigious Good Design Award, to promote creative industries in the ASEAN Member States in cooperation with the Japan Institute of Design Promotion (JDP). In FY2017, the Centre dispatched members of the Good Design Award Judging Committee to hold seminars and workshops to make a preliminary selection of products/services that met a minimum set of the criteria and standards for being Good Design. In FY 2018, selected ASEAN candidates went through the final screening process for the Selection in Tokyo. As a result, a total of 22 products/services were awarded the Good Design Award out of the 261 candidates from the 10 AEAN Member States, and furthermore, bamboo bicycle produced by the CV Pirani Works, Indonesia, was awarded the Good Design Gold Award. (The Gold Award was given to the best works among the Good Design Best 100.) The 22 products/services were also showcased in exhibitions at the Tokyo Midtown and the ASEAN-Japan Hall of the Centre in Tokyo. Through this program, the Centre supports ASEAN enterprises whose design proposes and presents creative solutions on how to improve industries, lifestyles and societies in order to inspire the current and next generation to achieve the sustainable development goals.
Export Capacity Building
This is a four-year regional project launched in FY2016 to support private sectors in CLMV (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam) countries to increase their export capacity by strengthening product development and knowledge-building on export business to Japan. It also aims to address the key issues CLMV countries are facing by sharing experiences on the successful export cases among the participants.
Under this project, 3-5 day-long workshops/seminars are planned in each CLMV country. The Centre implemented the project in Cambodia and Lao PDR in FY 2016 and FY 2017, respectively, on agriculture/food-related products by inviting the CLMV officials and experts. About one quarter of participants in the projects in Cambodia and Lao PDR became new exporters or increased exports to Japan. A workshop is planned for Myanmar in FY 2018.
Import Capacity Building of Japanese Companies
This is a new regional project to disseminate information related to imports from ASEAN to japan for Japanese companies and potential business partners. A seminar series on imports from ASEAN to japan is conducted at the ASEAN-Japan Hall and other places.