[ Nippon Keidanren ] [ Journal ]
Messages from "Economic Trend", September 2009

International Cooperation as a Growth Strategy

Vice Chairman, Nippon Keidanren
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

Globalization has been the most significant trend influencing the world economy since the 1990s. The economic crisis that began in the closing months of 2008 has at times focused attention on the negative aspects of globalization in relation to international financial transactions and trade. However, there can be no doubt that globalization has also brought enormous benefits. It has given emerging economies the impetus to shift their economic development into high gear. In addition, access to new business opportunities in these emerging economies has significantly strengthened the growth potential of companies in industrialized economies.

Japanese companies see considerable potential in the markets of emerging economies. In this sense, the use of ODA and other forms of international cooperation to provide solid support for sustained economic growth in emerging economies is considered highly significant. Japan's contributions to the development of emerging and developing economies through assistance with infrastructure improvement and other needs will inevitably have a positive effect on the business activities of Japanese companies in those countries. While it may be difficult to win support for increased ODA expenditure when government finances are tight, such contributions need to be recognized both as part of Japan's responsibilities in today's increasingly globalized international community, and also as a highly significant aspect of industrial policy.

In April 2009 Nippon Keidanren put forward recommendations titled "Pursuing Strategic, Enhanced International Cooperation Through Public-Private Cooperation". Since then we have lobbied the Japanese government at various levels to increase ODA, speed up the provision of ODA loans, and strengthen the systems used to implement overseas investment projects through JICA. As a result of these efforts, there is now continuing and rapid progress toward the development of a framework for government-private sector collaboration in international cooperation.

Globalization will continue to advance. It is vital in this context that Japan should work as a member of the regional community of Asia, which is the world's biggest growth zone, to achieve further growth by playing a leading role in the development of growth strategies and the creation of demand in the region.

The Committee on International Cooperation and the Committee on Asia and Oceania have established a joint working group, which will cooperate with the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), the Asian Development Bank and other organizations to produce recommendations on policies toward Asia. The working group plans to complete these recommendations by the fall of this year.

We hope that the government agencies concerned will continue to provide positive support. We also believe that the time has come for the private sector to take on the challenge of major global-scale projects in earnest.

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