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Japan to fund ASEAN’s economic cooperation initiatives

BusinessWorld, Manila

Japan to fund ASEAN’s economic cooperation initiatives

18 December 2011

By Eliza J. Diaz

Japan has agreed to begin funding economic cooperation initiatives with the ASEAN early next year as both parties finalized guidelines of project selection and management, a local trade official said on Friday.

The decision came at the sidelines of a joint review of the free trade agreement (FTA) between Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Tokyo last month as countries reviewed the implementation and utilization of the regional deal.

“We spoke of the economic cooperation provisions of the free trade agreement and it has been three years and we have not been able to realize these cooperation initiatives that we were aspiring for,” Ramon Vicente T. Kabigting, assistant secretary for international trade, told BusinessWorld in a telephone interview.

The deal contained no details on project clearing or explanations for the delayed implementation of the provisions, the official said.

Hence, the East Asian trade officials, at the ASEAN-Japan Committee on Comprehensive Economic Partnership (CEP), finally offered “to do it (the projects) that way you (the ASEAN) want,” Mr. Kabigting said.

Based on the new guidelines, a subcommittee will receive project proposals for preliminary approval to be forwarded to the CEP joint committee for a second review.

Once approved by the committee, a joint body managing the funding will determine and greenlight the required budget for implementation.

“The subcommittee already approved a project on [tracking and reducing] carbon footprints. The joint committee also received the recommendation and it is awaiting approval for funding,” the assistant secretary said.

“But basically, the project is a ‘go,’ and we look forward to implementation in the first quarter of next year,” Mr. Kabigting said.