Address by Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Mr. Tetsuro YANO at the Opening of the ABAC Plenary Meeting Tokyo

May 14, 2003

It is a great pleasure for me to take this opportunity today, to deliver a few words to the distinguished ABAC members.

APEC activities promote Asia-Pacific cooperation in wide range of areas and send out unified message at the annual Leaders' meeting. The government of Japan considers such activities a very important one. In order to promote regional economic cooperation, which is the aim of APEC, it is indispensable to reflect the ideas from you in the private sectors who are the actual actors in the regional business. Taking this opportunity of holding the ABAC Meeting in Japan, we hope to further strengthen the cooperation between the governments and ABAC.

I, as a representative of the Japanese government, would like make three points which I believe are especially important as a role of APEC.

First, while we are observing an increase of WTO members and the progress of regional integration in many parts of the world at the same time, it is necessary to strengthen WTO and also promote the liberalisation and facilitation of trade and investment in various sectors to achieve the Bogol goal and further push forward regional integration simultaneously in the Asia-Pacific region. In this respect, the role APEC is highly evaluated. Since last year, the review of the situation of liberalisation and facilitation of each economy has been taking place. I am hoping that this process during this year and next year will reconfirm the strength of APEC and give a momentum to its further activities. As for trade facilitation activities, the government of Japan is of the intention to further promote it, taking into account the view of ABAC. Upon request from ABAC Japan, we joined the APEC Business Travel Card Scheme this April.

Second, in order to achieve regional economic development and promote regional integration under the economic depression and difficulty in these days, it is essential for each economy to promote structural reform. I believe APEC, through its various activities including ECOTECH activities, can bear a significant role to further strengthen the economic structure of each economy. The Japanese government is also dealing with structural reform as a top priority task for Prime Minister Koizumi. Therefore, we very much welcome suggestions and advises from ABAC on structural reform.

Third, APEC is expected to tackle new tasks, which has influence on economic activities, such as counter-terrorism activities, in a unified manner. SARS is starting to affect the economic activities. On this issue, it is indispensable to take appropriate measures and limit its negative effect to the economy at the minimal level. In this aspect, I highly appreciate the fact that the ABAC Meeting is to take up issues on the economic effect of SARS and counter measures towards it, and would like to express deep gratitude to persons concerned who have worked so hard to prepare for the meeting. As for the issue of SARS, I hope for a useful discussion will take place at the APEC Senior Officials Meeting at the end of this month, APEC Meeting of Ministers responsible for Trade early next month and the APEC Health Ministers Meeting at the end of June. The government of Japan also highly appreciate the adoption of a declaration on North Korean issue at the Leaders' meeting in autumn last year. In order to secure safe and sound economic activities in the region, the government of Japan is of the view to further promote the cooperation within APEC.

In order to respond to such tasks, we expect to receive positive and constructive views and recommendations from ABAC members. We believe the inter exchange between ABAC and government of each economy should be two ways. The government of Japan is very much pleased to have opportunities of close consultation with ABAC members, however, if any of APEC economy has no such custom, I would very much appreciate it if you take Japan's case as a reference. In this context, the government of Japan and ABAC Japan are co-hosting a symposium in the afternoon of the 16th May, and I hope you all will actively participate in this occasion.

I would like to conclude my speech wishing all the success of the ABAC meeting.

Thank you.

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