Monday, April 10, 2017


April 8, 2017 7:11 am JST

Japan eyes cooperation with ASEAN in customs, e-commerce

Move is aimed at supporting talks on broad Asian FTA
TOKYO -- Japan will propose a plan for improving customs procedures and e-commerce in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, an effort to spur progress in negotiations for a free trade agreement in the wider Asian region.
Economic ministers from the 10-nation regional bloc and the Japanese government will meet on Saturday in Osaka, where Japan will present the plan.
Behind Japan's move to launch this initiative is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a proposed free trade agreement spanning the 10-nation bloc and six other countries, including Japan, China and India. China is pushing for a quick deal with a low level of liberalization, while Japan seeks an agreement with a high level of liberalization. Some members of ASEAN such as Laos and Cambodia with less-developed economies are drifting toward the Chinese position.
Japan's proposal will primarily focus on supporting the bloc's small and midsize businesses, which are seen as holding the key to ASEAN's economic growth. It will cover three topics: e-commerce, customs procedures and intellectual property protections.
To help cut costs in the e-commerce sector, Japan will introduce delivery methods pioneered by Japanese companies and have personnel share their know-how on improving efficiency. Many small and midsize businesses in Southeast Asia sell products online without having their own logistics networks. A more efficient delivery system would allow them to cut costs.
On customs, Japan will offer expertise on automation and inspections, with the aim of shortening the duration of such procedures, which currently take from several weeks to as long as a month.
On intellectual property, Japan plans to help countries clamp down on counterfeits and pirated goods. It will also propose supporting small and midsize businesses that have top-notch intellectual properties.