The bilateral trade relationship between ASEAN and Japan has been strengthened since the
Joint Declaration made at the Japan-ASEAN Summit held on 5 November 2002 in Phnom
Penh, Cambodia. This declaration signaled an intention to (1) implement measures for the
realization of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership, including elements of a possible Free
Trade Area to be completed as soon as possible within 10 years, and (2) to establish a
Committee to consider and draft a framework for the realization of the Comprehensive
Economic Partnership between Japan and ASEAN. In October 2003, the governments of
Japan and of the ASEAN-10 signed a general framework for a bilateral free trade agreement.
In November 2004, they agreed to initiate the negotiating process. The talks started in April
2005 and ended in November 2007, and the agreement came into force on 1 December 2008
The Japan-ASEAN FTA is a comprehensive one, covering trade in goods, services,
technical barriers to trade, economic cooperation and, on Japan’s request, intellectual
property rights. For groups in Southeast Asia, it is seen as formalizing ASEAN’s role as a
regional manufacturing hub for Japanese corporations. It is now easier and cheaper for
Japanese firms to move components of automobiles and electronics from one ASEAN
country to another in a regional assembly line.