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INTERNATIONAL > East Asia & Pacific

Japan, Thailand confirm cooperation to promote free trade

  • October 8, 2018
  • , Kyodo News , 8:13 p.m.
  • English Press

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Thai counterpart Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday confirmed their cooperation to promote free trade as the Southeast Asian country has expressed its readiness to join a regional trade pact Japan has been involved in.

 

In a press briefing after their meeting in Tokyo, Abe said Japan hailed Thailand’s willingness to enter the 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

 

Japan has worked hard to conclude the TPP following the withdrawal of the United States last year under President Donald Trump and sought to expand the multilateral framework.

 

“Amid the spread of protectionism in the world, Japan agreed with Thailand, which leads the economic development in the Mekong region, on an early conclusion of the RCEP,” Abe also said, referring to another regional free trade pact involving 16 countries.

 

The 16 members — Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea plus 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — are aiming for a broad agreement by the end of the year.

 

The two prime ministers held the talks on the sidelines the Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, with the leaders of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam expected to take part.

 

Abe told Prayut Japan will cooperate with Thailand to promote the Eastern Economic Corridor, a national project to develop a vast industrial area east of Bangkok, and train industrial personnel in the country.

 

In response, Prayut said, “I appreciate Prime Minister Abe’s push to encourage Japanese firms to invest in the Eastern Economic Corridor that is the center of the Thai economy and would lead to the development of the Mekong region.”

 

Abe also expressed Tokyo’s willingness to help Bangkok assume the rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next year.

 

Prayut invited Abe to visit the Southeast Asian country to attend a relevant international conference.

 

The two leaders also exchanged views on a variety of regional challenges, including North Korea, the South China Sea and the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, Abe added.

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