Nakasone Urges Creation Of 18-Nation Econ Cooperation Bloc In E Asia

May 25, 2006

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone said Thursday that before creating an East Asian Community, countries in the region must first try to establish an economic cooperation organization to promote regional trade as well as economic and financial interchanges.

Speaking at the 12th Future of Asia conference, Nakasone said the envisaged organization should comprise 18 countries -- the 10 ASEAN member nations plus Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India, the U.S. and Russia.

"It's important to include Russia in the group given its abundant oil and gas reserves," Nakasone said, adding that embracing the U.S. would also be important given its significant investment in the region.

Regarding the East Asian Community, the former premier said, "It should be created as the organization's 'inner circle.'"

He said the 18-member organization should promote, among other things, cooperation among member nations' central banks, the establishment of a regional free trade system and tie-ups among regional industries through the use of information technology.

The prevailing view has been that an East Asian economic cooperation group would comprise all of the aforementioned countries but Russia and the U.S.

Titles of speakers, names of companies, etc., were correct as of the time when the forum was held.