Hanoi (VNA) - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is seeking more partnerships between small and medium-sized enterprises in ASEAN countries and Japan.

Singapore Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing made the statement during a meeting of ASEAN trade ministers and Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko held in Singapore on August 30.

Chan highlighted the long-lasting ASEAN-Japan ties while, while stressing potential for expanding economic cooperation to newer areas such as the digital economy and innovation.

The minister said it is important for micro, small and medium enterprises in ASEAN and Japan to build partnerships and networks to harness potential opportunities.

ASEAN is seeking Japan's support in ensuring that its markets will remain open and competitive, especially in an increasingly challenging global economic climate, he added.

He emphasised the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership by the end of this year as both sides’ shared goal.

Japan was ASEAN's fourth-largest trading partner in 2017 with two-way trade reaching 218 billion USD, accounting for 8.5 percent of ASEAN's total trade.

Japan was the second-largest source of foreign direct investment for the region last year, accounting for nearly 10 percent of flows to the group.-VNA