Manila, Sept. 9 (Jiji Press)–Japanese trade minister Hiroshige Seko proposed an aid package for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to develop foundations for free trade, at a meeting with his counterparts from ASEAN members in Manila on Saturday.
The offer came as Japan hoped to secure its cooperation with ASEAN, ahead of a ministerial session on Sunday of negotiations to form a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership among 16 countries, also including China and South Korea.
The aid package includes measures to assist the development of legal experts on e-commerce and the introduction of systems to facilitate customs procedures, and to support small businesses, as expected by ASEAN countries.
In the RCEP negotiations, the ASEAN side is eager to reach an accord within this year, while Japan and others call for taking time to cover e-commerce legal systems and trade and investment rules, which were included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact.
Currently, one of the 16 RCEP member countries is demanding tariff removal be minimized, while another is cautious about including trade and investment rules, according to sources familiar with the talks.