[ Nippon Keidanren ] [ Policy ]
Asian Business Summit Joint Statement
Building Global Prosperity through Sustainable Asian Growth
March 15, 2010
In order to overcome the challenging economic circumstances we face today and to help the global economy achieve recovery, expectations are climbing for a new growth model in which Asian demand can serve as an engine driving the global economy by ensuring the sustainability of dynamic growth and development in Asia. At the same time, for Asia to make full use of its growth potential, it will be essential to work in a cooperative manner by promoting further regional economic integration and developing broad regional infrastructure.
In these circumstances, business actors across the region share the recognition that they must play a leading role toward the formation of a more vibrant Asian economy using the vitality of the private sector via closer cooperation. On March 15, 2010, representatives from 13 business organizations from 11 Asian economies came together in Tokyo to take part in the Asian Business Summit, hosted by Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation). At this summit participants carried out energetic exchange of opinions on promotion of economic partnership, advancement of broad regional infrastructure development, resolution of global environmental problems, and other issues faced by all of Asia, and compiled this joint statement. As members of the business sector, we are committed to playing our roles toward the achievement of the proposals spelt out below.
1. Overcoming Difficult Economic Conditions, Securing a Path to Growth
- (1) Since the eruption of the financial crisis in September 2008 in the United States and Europe, the global economy has been mired in challenging conditions. In the midst of this, however, the Asian economy has shown signs of returning to a steady growth track, particularly in newly industrialized economies, thanks to the successful implementation of economic stimulus measures at each economy.
- (2) In order for Asia to function as a growth engine for the global economy, it will be vital for the region to keep increasing consumption and expanding market demands, being not merely the "world's factory" as it has in the past.
- (3) Toward the expansion of demand within Asia, we will strengthen the measures taken to provide open consumer markets, to develop hard and soft regional infrastructure, and to eliminate or relax various regulations. We remain committed to free trade and firmly opposed to protectionist approaches.
- (4) Through promotion of innovation, development and provision of products that meet consumer needs, and other related methods, we will contribute to the growth of the Asian economy.
2. Promoting Trade and Investment Liberalization through Regional Economic Integration
- (1) In order to further expand the geographical coverage of economic integration, we will encourage individual economies to take evolutionary approach. Consolidation of the existing ASEAN based EPAs as well as the eradication of blank areas in the free-trade map of the region would be the first step. This could contribute to the formation of broader economic integration such as the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) in the future. Regional economic integration in Asia must be based on the principles of openness, transparency, inclusiveness, and functional cooperation.
- (2) It will also be important to deepen regional economic integration through qualitative improvement to existing economic partnership agreements (EPAs) and FTAs. For example, efforts to do away with impediments such as foreign capital restrictions and opaque domestic regulations will contribute to facilitating trade in services and investments. Additionally, there should be active efforts to bring about further liberalization of the movement natural persons.
- (3) Regional economic integration and multilateral trade and investment liberalization are both vital elements. We express our strong hopes that the Doha Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations will be concluded successfully as soon as possible.
3. Enhancing the Business Environment
- (1) So that corporations can carry out their activities beyond borders in a seamless manner, smoothly implementing their investments and technology transfers, it will be vital to put in place legal systems and frameworks for the protection of intellectual property (IP) rights; to harmonize logistics and customs procedures, as well as standards, certifications, and other systems and to improve cooperation on their implementation. On this point, in addition to the rule-making functions of APEC and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), there will need to be energetic efforts making use of business environment improvement subcommittees formed on the basis of EPAs. We will work to share the know-how available to the private sector, making every possible use of it toward the provision of this soft infrastructure.
- (2) It will be important for the Asian region to function as a center of research and development, not just production and consumption. In order to create environments from which Asia can deliver high-added-value products and new business models to the rest of the world through innovation, we call for thoroughgoing IP rights protection, as well as the formation of a framework in which talented people and technology can move freely within the region regardless of nationality and the concentration of regional resources on research and development and the fostering of human resources. Also, we will work with governments across the region to develop vocational skills and higher education to meet Asia's future human resources needs.
4. Advancing Broad Regional Infrastructure Development
- (1) In order to realize sustainable Asian growth, we must eliminate intraregional disparities by improving regional infrastructure in Southeast Asia and South Asia, thereby reducing transaction costs and encouraging the shift of production sites to late-starter nations through horizontal division of labor in manufacturing industries. We should also participate actively in the "Comprehensive Asia Development Plan" being carried out by the ASEAN Secretariat, ERIA and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
- (2) In developing broad regional infrastructure, it will be essential to place priority on key infrastructure, including transportation, electricity, telecommunications, and water-related facilities, as well as urban infrastructure, that will elicit private investment. We will cooperate with such efforts from our positions as private-sector actors.
- (3) Developing broad regional infrastructure will require vast amounts of money, placing it beyond the reach of public funding alone. Therefore, there will be a need for the creation of packages in which basic infrastructure is developed with public funds and the private sector handles those areas that can be managed on a commercial basis. While drawing on our accumulated experience in Asia, we will work from our private-sector standpoints and take active part in public-private partnerships (PPPs) to develop infrastructure. We will also promote cooperation aimed at developing Asian capital markets to allow access to the funds needed.
5. Promoting Regional Monetary and Currency Cooperation
- (1) Currency stability is a prerequisite for smooth business operations in Asia. Building on the May 2009 multilateralization of the "Chiang Mai Initiative", a network of bilateral currency-swap agreements, we call for the further expansion of member countries and increased flexibility in the application of this initiative.
- (2) It is an urgent task to prepare markets within the region for the issuance and distribution of bonds and stocks so that private savings in the Asian region can circulate as investment funds. We will study the creation of needed infrastructure, such as settlement systems, guarantee agencies, rating agencies, and related legal systems. In areas including the fostering of institutional investors and the design of new financial products, we will provide private-sector expertise to contribute to the creation of Asian bond and stock markets and the expansion of the pool of market participants.
6. Tackling Environmental and Energy Issues
- (1) In the Asian region, where rapid economic development is expected, it will be necessary to carry out coordinated measures in response to issues such as energy security, climate change, energy conservation, waste recycling, and preservation of biodiversity.
- (2) In order to tackle these issues by means of technology, we will strengthen our cooperative efforts on a business basis and promote their spread effectively. For example, approaches like "the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP)", which specify best available technologies not entailing excessive cost within each industrial sector and promote their spread, would be a useful tool. We will strengthen our efforts toward the establishment of systems needed for public-private cooperative efforts in the region.
- (3) In line with their stage of development, each economy should take on its fair share of responsibility toward the achievement of a low-carbon and recycle based society by promoting conservation and creation of energy, resources conservation and recycling through public-private cooperation. These efforts will lead to lower costs and the bolstering of energy/resource security frameworks for the region as a whole.
- (4) With respect to tackling climate change, there is a need for developing nations as well as industrialized economies to reinforce efforts aimed at emission reductions, based on the principle of "common but differentiated responsibility". To achieve this goal, developing nations would need technology transfer, capacity building and financial support for their appropriate mitigation and adaptation actions.
- (5) The United Nations declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity. Taking this opportunity, we will proactively pursue business activities in a manner compatible with the preservation of biodiversity.
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