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Monday, Feb. 26, 2007

JAPANESE PERSPECTIVES

Push market integration in expanding East Asia


As robust economic expansion continues worldwide, emerging economic powers like the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and other Asian countries are riding a wave of globalization to achieve rapid growth.

At the same time, advanced nations such as the United States have introduced bold tax reforms, deregulatory measures and policies to promote innovation as they drive global growth. Britain and Australia, which are both structurally reforming their economies, have enjoyed more than 15 consecutive years of growth.

This proves that globalization gives many kinds of countries a chance to grow. In January, the Keidanren adopted a new policy vision: "Land of Hope, Japan." This vision calls for accelerating structural reforms and steering the Japanese economy in a new direction by taking advantage of the dynamism of burgeoning world economies.

As part of its strategies for achieving such goals, Keidanren advocates policies for promoting innovation, raising productivity and creating demand.

It also proposes creating an expanded network of economic partnership agreements with fast-growing Asian countries to create a massive market. Once it is put together, this integrated market will become a powerful engine for global growth.

So far, Japan has signed bilateral EPAs mainly with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The next step will be to conclude a multinational EPA with ASEAN itself. It is also important to create trust and increase mutually beneficial ties with China and South Korea.

In addition, the Keidanren released a joint statement with the U.S. Business Roundtable in January that called on the government to arrange an EPA with the United States.

Things are no different with Australia. Japan and Australia agreed late last year to start negotiations on a bilateral EPA. This was followed in early February by a Keidanren mission to Australia led by Chairman Fujio Mitarai.

Japan and Australia are important partners that share the basic values of freedom and democracy, and in recent years they have bolstered their mutually complementary economic ties.

There will of course be some sensitive issues when discussing the EPA, such as farm trade, and the Japanese business community hopes to support structural reforms in agriculture.

We hope that the two countries will deepen mutual understanding and economic relations through the talks and aim for a comprehensive and high-level partnership that includes cooperation on securing stable supplies of natural resources and energy.

Yoshio Nakamura is director general of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren.)


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