Policy Proposals Asia and Oceania The 22nd Japan-Thailand Joint Trade and Economic Committee Meeting (Summary)
Keidanren Kaikan, Tokyo, Japan
The 22nd Japan-Thailand Joint Trade and Economic Committee Meeting was held on 28 May 2012 at Keidanren Kaikan, Tokyo, Japan. The Japanese delegation was composed of 90 delegates, led by Eizo Kobayashi and Ichiro Itoh, Chairman and Co-Chairman, respectively, of Keidanren's Japan-Thailand Trade and Economic Committee, and the Thai delegation was composed of 29 delegates, led by Chartsiri Sophonpanich, Chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) and of the Thai Bankers' Association (TBA).
The 22nd Committee Meeting was set up for the purpose of exchanging views on concrete measures to enhance Japan-Thailand economic relations from the view point of the business community, while looking ahead to the Asian economy after ASEAN economic integration which was scheduled for 2015. Based on the results of the discussions, the two business communities concluded the following Summary:
1. The two business communities shared the view that Japan and Thailand were strategic economic partners that work together to promote economic prosperity in Asia, which will also lead to prosperity throughout the world in the post-financial crisis era. They recognized that this Committee Meeting was one of the most important frameworks to strengthen this key partnership, and that the Meeting was held at an auspicious time as Japan and Thailand celebrated this year the 125th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations.
2. The two business communities confirmed that investment between Japan and Thailand was steadily increasing this year, overcoming the natural disasters which hit the two countries last year. Based on their experience in 2011, they discussed cooperation in rebuilding infrastructure affected by the flooding in Thailand last year, and emphasized the value of disaster-resilient infrastructure development.
3. The two business communities affirmed their common goal of building the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) by 2020. They also shared the view that physical and institutional infrastructure development was indispensable to support regional integration in Asia. They reached a consensus that Japan and Thailand, as co-donors in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), should play important roles to further promote infrastructure development in the region, for example satellites and power plants. In this regard, the two business communities confirmed that infrastructure development in Myanmar, including filling in the missing links in the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC) and the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC), was an urgent issue to support that nation's efforts in democratization and economic reform.
4. The two business communities reaffirmed the Japan - Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA) should be thoroughly upgraded to enhance its comprehensiveness and quality, taking the opportunity of the review which was scheduled within five years of the EPA's coming into effect. The Japanese side pointed out required important improvements as follows: accelerating schedule for elimination of tariffs on the components and materials and finished cars, easing or eliminating regulations on foreign ownership in the investment and service sectors, liberalizing movement of natural persons, enhancing protection of intellectual property rights, and introducing self-certification scheme for approved exporters. The Thai side pointed out several issues for enhancing market access in Japan, i.e. expansion of import quota and reduction of tariff for processed pork and revision of rules of origin for canned tuna products. In addition, the Thai side reiterated both public and private sectors of both countries to review of the 7 on-going cooperation projects under the JTEPA such as energy conservation, textile and apparel industry, iron and steel industry.
As a result of the discussions, the two business communities agreed to urge their governments to launch negotiations, especially those of the Sub-Committee on Trade in Goods, as early as possible this year and to address the above-mentioned issues. The two business communities also agreed that the Sub-Committee on Enhancement of Business Environment should be held this year to discuss issues such as tax system, promotion of establishment of regional operating headquarter, labor disputes, mandatory standards on steel industry. To monitor and follow up the progress of JTEPA negotiation, both sides agreed to activate the Joint Working Committee on JTEPA, as set up during the last Joint Meeting.
5. The two business communities shared the view that there were many possible areas of further cooperation between Japan and Thailand. Japanese side suggested expanding cooperation in the areas of eco-houses, financial services, and tourism. The Thai side pointed out several promising areas for further business development in Thailand such as water management, eco-industrial town, and adoption of "Otagai" Business Continuity Model, where parallel industrial supply chains were established.
6. The two business communities agreed that the 23rd Meeting will be held at an appropriate time based on the agreement between them. Both sides also agreed to exchange of the relevant information and development on regular basis, in order to keep updating on their interested issues.