TOKYO, JAPAN – On 16 December 2023, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Fred Pascual advanced mutually beneficial economic collaborations between the Philippines and Japan at the ASEAN-Japan Economic Co-Creation held at the Roppongi Academy Hills. He presented the Philippines as a robust economic partner, citing its young workforce equipped with skills for the industry 4.0 economy. 

Secretary Pascual underscored the forum’s alignment with the ASEAN-Japan Economic Co-Creation Vision and the Future Design and Action Plan for Innovative and Sustainable ASEAN-Japan Economic Co-Creation 2023-2033. “I am pleased that today’s Forum meets my earlier call as it builds on the Co-Creation Vision by identifying several paths to ensure that the ASEAN Member States and Japan benefit from deeper economic relations involving the youth and boosting private-public partnership,” Secretary Pascual said. 

The DTI chief emphasized the prime opportunity for Japan to tap into ASEAN’s creative and knowledge economy through strategic partnerships. He particularly leveraged the Philippine workforce, boasting a median age of 25 years old and proficiency in Industry 4.0-related skills.  

Further, the trade and industry chief highlighted the Philippines’ strengths in critical sectors like electronics and IT-BPM, identifying them as strategic areas for collaboration with Japan. He stressed the significance of these partnerships in fostering robust supply chains, enhancing resilience, and facilitating higher knowledge exchange between ASEAN and Japan. 

Likewise, the DTI Secretary also called for increased public-private partnerships to promote open innovation beyond borders. He encouraged Japan to engage in co-creation initiatives with ASEAN, specifically in research, product development, and circular economy initiatives, envisioning mutually advantageous outcomes. 

Highlighting the significance of inclusivity and strategic partnerships in chartering ASEAN-Japan economic co-creation, the DTI chief emphasized, “I look forward to more engagements where stakeholders, policymakers, business leaders, academia, and the youth can exchange views on the future of ASEAN-Japan economic cooperation. Such collaboration can ensure that the benefits from deeper engagement remain inclusive and accessible for all. Let us leverage this partnership for our mutual development and foster a relationship that ensures prosperity for all.”  

The ASEAN-Japan Economic Co-Creation Forum is held alongside the 50th Year Commemorative Summit for ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. Building upon the ASEAN-Japan Economic Co-Creation Vision initiated by ASEAN Economic Ministers last August 2023, the forum aimed to create a secure, prosperous, and equitable economy through mutually beneficial partnerships. This vision underscores the enduring relationship between ASEAN and Japan, outlining critical strategies for generating shared economic and social value. 

This year also highlights the Philippines’ role as the coordinator for ASEAN-Japan economic relations. In 2022, Japan stands as ASEAN’s fourth-largest trading partner and second-largest foreign direct investment (FDI) source. Meanwhile, the Philippines recognized Japan as the second-largest trading partner and top FDI source in 2022. ♦

Date of release: 18 December 2023