Thursday, December 7, 2023

ASEAN Seeks Single Window Expansion with Japan for Greater Trade

Jayanty Nada Shofa
February 13, 2023 | 4:04 pm
ASEAN secretary-general Kao Kim Hourn attends the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat in Jakarta on Feb. 4, 2023. (Antara Photo/Aditya Pradana Putra)
ASEAN secretary-general Kao Kim Hourn attends the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat in Jakarta on Feb. 4, 2023. (Antara Photo/Aditya Pradana Putra)

Jakarta. ASEAN is seeking to expand its single window initiative with Japan for greater two-way trade as 2023 marks the golden jubilee of their bilateral relations, according to the bloc’s secretary-general Kao Kim Hourn.

ASEAN is not only banking on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) -- the world’s largest trade deal -- to boost its trade with Japan. The Southeast Asian grouping wants Japan to also become part of the ASEAN Single Window (ASW). 

The ASW enables the electronic exchange of trade-related documents between ASEAN member states. Under this economic platform, member states can enjoy faster customs clearance and less paperwork. 

“In addition to implementing the RCEP, ASEAN looks forward to the potential expansion of the ASEAN Single Window with Japan to better enable trade facilitation in the new normal,” Kao said at the ASEAN-Japan relations symposium on Monday.


According to Kao, two-way trade has been going strong over the past years.

ASEAN-Japan posted $240.2 billion in bilateral trade volume in 2021, marking a 17.2 percent year-on-year growth and surpassing pre-pandemic levels. This also makes Japan ASEAN’s third-largest trading partner. 

Japan is also the fourth-largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) to ASEAN among the bloc's dialogue partner countries. FDI outflows from Japan to ASEAN amounted to $12 billion in 2021, up by 3.5 percent y-o-y.

“We want to see more trade and investment with Japan. We have done a lot in the past 50 years, but we hope we can do a lot more in the next 50 years,” Kao said.

“ASEAN also welcomes Japan’s intention to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership hopefully later this year.”

The ASW became live across all ASEAN member states in 2019. This platform is set to facilitate the exchange of more trade-related documents in the future. 

According to the Trade Ministry, Indonesia is aiming for the full implementation of the electronic exchange of Form D via the ASW during its 2023 ASEAN chairmanship. Form D or the certificate of origin is a document that certifies that the exported goods are wholly manufactured in a particular country.

Aside from the 10 ASEAN member states, Japan is among the signatories of the RCEP. Australia, China, South Korea, and New Zealand also inked the trade pact. The RCEP will ultimately remove 90 percent of the trade tariffs between its signatories over the 20 years from coming into effect. The RCEP entered into force for Indonesia in January 2023.

The World Bank reported that the fifteen countries under the RCEP represent 30 percent of the global population. They also account for $25.8 trillion (30 percent) of the global gross domestic product (GDP).

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