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Since its establishment, the trade promotion activities of the ASEAN-Japan Centre had focused on introducing potential products from the ASEAN Member States to Japan by mainly organizing trade exhibitions with business meetings. In FY2016, the Centre has abolished such exhibitions, and intensified its efforts on promoting exports from the ASEAN Member States to Japan through the following research-oriented and capacity-building activities.

1. Promoting services trade

This is a multi-year regional program started in FY2016 in view of the fact that understanding and further liberalization of services trade is important for the future integration of ASEAN.

In FY2016, four technical papers, one each for professional services, R&D services, telecommunication services and computer and related services, were produced. Based on the papers, the Centre conducted seminars twice, inviting government officials from the 10 ASEAN Member States, Japanese businesspersons and resource persons including UNCTAD experts, to inform the participants of the latest trends and issues in the said sectors and discuss possible policy recommendations.  The participants also discussed feasibility of 19 promotional measures of services trade proposed by the Centre.  The seminars were followed by field trips to Japanese institutions/firms of the relevant industries.  It is hoped that the outcome through the activities will be commonly shared by all stakeholders and widely used at ASEAN meetings.

In FY2017, the Centre plans to publish three papers on courier services, transport services and tourism services. Two seminars/workshops on the said three sectors are planned for government officials with the aim at enhancing domestic capacities, followed by field trip activities.  As a follow-up to the work undertaken in FY2016, the Centre is starting to collect information on trade barriers on four producer services studied in FY2016.

2. New forms of trade between ASEAN and Japan

Non-equity it y 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 and minimize risks with NEM operation between the ASEAN Member States and Japan.

This is a multi-year regional program started in FY2016. A series of seminars on NEM will be held in FY2017 where the ASEAN Member States discuss not only findings about and policy recommendations on N EM today in respective member states but also the methodology to collect data on NEM. The focused NEM modes are international subcontracting, international franchising and licensing.

Through a total of 10 country papers, and 10 seminars on NEM over three years (planned), the latest NEM-related issues will 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.

3. Promoting trade in creative indstries

Under this program, the Centre participated in the Tokyo Game Show in 2016 for the fourth consecutive year in order to provide the latest information on game trends, technology and know-how for stakeholders of the ASEAN Member States and Japan and to promote business alliances between companies engaging in digital contents in these countries. A total of 61 participants from 24 companies from the six ASEAN Member States (Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and three winners of the ASEAN Character Award 2016, the annual character competition organized by the Centre since 2014, took part in business dealings with Japanese companies, conducting 682 business meetings.

In FY2017, the Centre will introduce the initiative on the “ASEAN Design Selection” in cooperation with the Japan Institute of Design Promotion (JDP) to encourage small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in ASEAN to sharpen practical design skills and to learn comprehensive business practices that create new value, and gain insight into the Japanese design markets. The main objective of this program is to increase marketability of ASEAN products in the Japanese market.

4. Export capacity building

This is a program to support CLMV (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam) countries to increase their export capacity by strengthening product development, information sharing and know-how 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 program, a 3-5 day-long workshop/seminar is planned in each CLMV country over the next few years. In FY2016, the Centre held workshop in Cambodia on agriculture/food-related products for the first time, by inviting CLMV officials and experts, which was participated in by 241 participants.  It was followed by a field trip that attracted 72 participants.  The participants of the program shared information and knowledge on products safety measures and technical development for their export products.

Further, import promotion seminars are organized at the ASEAN-Japan Hall to introduce products that can be imported into Japan and raised awareness of Japanese importers towards such products.