3. Latin America and the Caribbean
Latin America and the Caribbean region has a total population of 590 million and regional GDP of $4.9 trillion6 (2.5 times as large as ASEAN’s). While most countries around the world are experiencing sluggish economic growth due to the effects of the global economic and financial crisis, the region achieved economic growth of around 5.9 percent in 2010. The region is further increasing its presence in the world economy as it realizes steady economic growth based on the market economy, for example, its economy is projected to grow by 4.3% in 2011. These countries are also attracting increased attention as the suppliers of minerals, including rare metals, energy and food. In addition to its increasing economic presence, the voice of the region as a whole is becoming increasingly influential in the international community, as democracy has advanced in the region.
Japan has traditionally maintained very friendly relations with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, with ties between the people of each side including the presence of approximately 1.5 million Japanese descendants in the region, as well as the presence of approximately 400,000 descendants of Japanese immigrants now residing in Japan. Based on harmonious relationship, Japan has deepened these relations by supporting the consolidation of democracy and economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean countries. Today, these countries that share fundamental values with Japan such as democracy and the market economy, have become important partners for Japan in the international community. In order to further advance these relations, Japan is conducting diplomatic policies for this region under the following three pillars: (1)strengthening economic relations, (2)supporting the stable development of the region, and (3)advancing cooperation in the international arena.
In strengthening economic relations, the Government of Japan supports Japanese companies by establishing EPAs, investment treaties, tax treaties, and other legal frameworks, as well as by consulting with the governments in the region, based on the information about the activities of Japanese companies and local situations. The Government of Japan is also actively promoting the Japanese infrastructure development in Latin America and the Caribbean countries as infrastructural demands in Latin America and the Caribbean countries are expected to increase due to their economic growth. Japan is also working to secure the stable supplies of natural resources and food through deepening cooperative relations with the countries in the region that have abundant natural resources and food.
In addition, the deep-rooted problems of poverty and social disparity in each country must be resolved to realize the stable development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Japan cooperates toward the realization of sustainable economic development in the region by actively supporting the efforts of each government to resolve such problems, through financial and technical cooperation.
Consisting of 33 countries, Latin America and the Caribbean region has a significant influence over decision making at the United Nations and other international for a where decisions are made by majority vote. In light of this, the Government of Japan works closely with those countries, in addressing those issues the international community is facing, such as environmental and climate change issues, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and the UN Security Council Reform.
6 GDP and population statistics are cited from the ECLAC Statistical Yearbook 2011.