Singaporean Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Singapore (VNA) –
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its Northeast Asian partners - China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (RoK) - have reaffirmed commitments to promoting cooperation and economic integration to build a free and open East Asia region amid growing protectionism.

In his opening remarks at the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Plus Three Consultations in Singapore on August 30, Singaporean Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said ASEAN remains determined in pursuing stronger economic cooperation with China, Japan and the RoK in the face of growing tensions in the global economy.

The ongoing trade tensions among major economies, as well as the advent of new technologies and the digital economy, have made it critical for ASEAN and the three nations to stay committed to deepening and broadening economic linkages, he said.

ASEAN has free trade deals with each of these three countries, who are also signatories of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a trade pact that also involves Australia, New Zealand and India.

ASEAN looks forward to working constructively and pragmatically with China, Japan and the RoK to deliver good outcomes for the RCEP negotiations by the end of this year, Chan said.

At the consultations, ministers discussed new areas of collaboration and the ASEAN Plus Three Economic Cooperation Work Programme for 2019-2020, which will guide cooperation over the next two years.

Despite uncertainties in the global economy such as trade war or growing protectionism, trade and investment ties between ASEAN and the three countries have increased remarkably.

Last year, total trade between ASEAN and the three countries increased by 16.1 percent to 807 billion USD, representing 31.6 percent of the bloc’s total trade value.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) flows from China, Japan and the RoK into ASEAN reached 29.9 billion USD last year, accounting for 21.8 percent of total FDI inflows into the region.-VNA