Relations between Southeast and East Asia

One of the major changes in the global economic order has been the transformation of the whole of East Asia (including Japan) and ASEAN into inter-linked growth centres. Economic development in both China and ASEAN countries has contributed much to this change. 

Since the Plaza Accord in the mid-1980s, the deepening of interdependence and economic development in East Asia (including the Asian NIEs) and parts of ASEAN have been remarkable with a World Bank report praising it as the East Asian miracle in 1993. 

Even though some ridicule was directed at the miracle during the meltdown caused by the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, the rebound in ASEAN countries has been brilliant and the pace of the recovery beyond expectations. Although the region received an economic battering in the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, it quickly recovered and together with China demonstrated its resilience as a global growth centre.

ASEAN and Japan signed the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP) on 14 April 2008. The AJCEP Agreement is comprehensive in scope, covering trade in goods, trade in services, investment and economic cooperation. 

ASEAN-Japan trade reached $240.9 billion in 2013, or 9.6% total ASEAN trade. Japan was the association’s third-largest trading partner after China and the European Union (EU). Meanwhile Japanese investments in ASEAN reached $22.9 billion US dollars in 2013, making it the second-largest source of FDI for ASEAN.

Today the relationship between Japan and ASEAN countries is no longer a matter of unilateral support from Japan to ASEAN countries as it was at the time of the Fukuda doctrine, but rather one where Japan and ASEAN have joined hands to foster political security and stable economic growth in a broader Southeast and East Asia region.