ERIA Contributes to the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings
The 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits and other related meetings were held in Vientiane, Lao PDR on 6-8 September 2016. The summits, which focused on deepening ASEAN integration, gave ERIA the opportunity to communicate the Institute's research activities with the heads of state of ASEAN and East Asian countries and business leaders in the Asian region.
ERIA Flagship Report Presented at ABIS
Speaking immediately after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit on 7 September, Professor Hidetoshi Nishimura, the President of ERIA, presented ERIA's flagship report, 'Lao PDR at the Crossroads: Industrial Development Strategies 2016-2030'.
The report represents the finalisation of ERIA's multi-stage research project 'Comprehensive Asia Development Plan' (CADP) which aims to establish Asian connectivity based on infrastructure plans. Based on the CADP, ERIA has worked on a series of individual countries' development plans: the 'Phnom Penh Initiative for Narrowing Development Gaps' for Cambodia and the 'Myanmar Comprehensive Development Vision'. Taken together, these plans contribute to consolidating the Mekong connectivity. The report proposes to maximize the potential of Lao PDR's geography by turning its perceived weakness as a 'landlocked country' into the strength of a 'land-linked country', similar to Switzerland.
'At last, the final piece of Mekong connectivity - the Crossroads report - has been completed,' said Prof Nishimura at the ASEAN Business Investment Summit.
Japan's Prime Minister Mentions ERIA
In his speech at the ASEAN Business Investment Summit on 7 September, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on ERIA to conduct further research on trade restrictions.
'The next issue to tackle is expanding the efforts of the AEC to deal with reforms of various domestic regulations. I call on ERIA to quantify the trade restricting effects of specific types of non-tariff measures and pinpoint priority issues.'
ERIA Mentioned in the Chairman's Statement of the 11th East Asia Summit
The Chairman's Statement for the 11th East Asia Summit recognised ERIA's contribution to ASEAN connectivity in the 18th paragraph:
18. We noted the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) and the adoption of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025. In this regard, we looked forward to the 7th ASEAN Connectivity Symposium entitled 'Intensifying Partnerships to Realise the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025' to be held in October 2016 in Vientiane, Lao PDR. We recognised the role of ERIA in promoting regional economic integration, took note of the Statement of the 9th Governing Board Meeting of ERIA, and encouraged ERIA to continue its role in supporting ASEAN Connectivity in the coming years. We encouraged ERIA to continue its support to the Chair of ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit.
The Statement also recognised ERIA-related projects in paragraphs 6 and 7:
Priority Areas of Cooperation
6. We welcomed the progress made in implementing the Plan of Action (POA) to implement the Phnom Penh Declaration on the East Asia Summit Development Initiative (2015-2017) which focuses on EAS cooperation in the six priority areas, namely energy, education, finance, global health including pandemics, environment and disaster management, and ASEAN connectivity. We took note of the Progress Report of the Implementation of the POA.
7. We noted the progress made under the EAS Energy Cooperation Task Force (ECTF) Work Plan 2015-2016 in the work streams of Energy Efficiency and Conservation (EE&C); Biofuels for Transport and Other Purposes; and Renewable and Alternative Power Generation (RAPG). We underlined the importance of continued investments in the energy sector as well as the promotion of clean energy, such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean energy technology including enhancing the use of natural gas as less polluting energy. We welcomed the previous two EAS Clean Energy Forums hosted by China and ASEAN Center for Energy, and looked forward to the 3rd EAS Clean Energy Forum.
ERIA Mentioned in the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan III
The Initiative for ASEAN Integration Work Plan III mentioned ERIA in Paragraphs 14(I) and 14(III).
14. The following actions will be undertaken in MSMEs:
I. Support access to finance for MSMEs by, inter alia, establishing and strengthening credit bureaus, and further developing credit guarantee systems. A key factor inhibiting access to finance for MSMEs is the limited coverage of credit bureaus in CLMV countries, which discourages lenders from extending loans to many MSMEs. Further limiting access to blank loans is the predominant use of land as collateral - a challenge for enterprises which have moved away from land-intensive industries. Credit guarantee systems also remain underdeveloped in most CLMV countries. A study by the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) found that Myanmar, for example had neither a private nor a government credit guarantee scheme. To support the growth and export potential of MSMEs, CLMV countries require additional assistance to extend credit coverage through credit bureaus and to establish targeted credit guarantee schemes that meet the needs of MSMEs.
III. Increase the capacity of business associations to partner with government in creating a conducive environment for MSMEs and to assist MSMEs to start and sustain their enterprises. Since 2008, ASEAN has focused on engaging the private sector in the region's economic development. A recent survey by ERIA found that business associations in CLMV countries do not have the same capacity to engage effectively with their members and government as business associations in the ASEAN-6. As a consequence, MSMEs in CLMV countries lack an additional source of support for financial advice, business information and entrepreneurial skills development, and governments lack a private sector partner for consultation. Business associations in CLMV countries need assistance to improve their capacity to deliver services to their members, as well as to engage with government on relevant issues.
ERIA Mentioned in the Eight Statement of the Mekong-Japan Summit
The Eight Statement of the Mekong-Japan Summit mentioned ERIA in the 13th Paragraph:
13. The Leaders highly appreciated the continuous contribution to the Mekong countries from the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA). In this connection, they commended the completion of its report on 'Lao PDR at the Final Crossroads: Industrial Development Strategies 2016-2030'.