Japan and Thailand confirm cooperation to promote free trade
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Thai counterpart Prayuth Chan-ocha 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 news briefing after their meeting in Tokyo, Abe said Japan hailed Thailandâs 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.
âAmid 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,â Abe also said, referring to another regional free trade pact involving 16 countries.
The 16 members â" Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea plus 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations â" are aiming for a broad agreement by the end of the year.
The leaders held the talks on the sidelines the Meko ng-Japan Summit Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, with the leaders of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam expected to take part.
Abe told Prayut that 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, âI appreciate Prime Minister Abeâs 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.â
Abe also expressed Tokyoâs willingness to help Bangkok assume the rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next year.
Prayut also invited Abe to visit Thailand.
The two leaders 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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