East Asia Summit Eyes Doubling Regional GDP By '20: Draft

Friday, May 21, 2010

HANOI (Nikkei)--The 16 East Asia summit member countries will cooperate more closely to implement industry-promotion measures to double regional gross domestic product from current levels by 2020, according to a draft medium-term growth strategy.

The report, drafted by the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), calls for raising the ratio of intra-regional trade to East Asia's overall transactions from the current 40% to 50% by that year.

It envisages boosting the region's manufacturing activity to 42% of global output value, from the current 33%. It also proposes undertaking roughly 650 infrastructure projects covering more than one country at a cost of up to 200 billion dollars, or some 18 trillion yen.

Other proposed measures include those designed to narrow income gaps in the region and address the challenges posed by aging and shrinking populations. They are intended to mitigate factors impeding steady economic growth in East Asia.

To meet these targets, the strategy calls for setting up a fund to accelerate R&D activity and for expanding existing financing programs to provide start-up capital to smaller companies.

If the strategy is executed successfully, China's per-capita GDP is projected to more than double from the 2008 level, and Malaysia's is expected to top 10,000 dollars, catapulting the country into the ranks of advanced economies.

Participants at last year's East Asia summit requested that ERIA draft the growth strategy, and the 16 member countries plan to finalize the draft by the end of August. The members will have the final version approved at the summit scheduled to be held in Hanoi in October, launching talks to coordinate policy early next year.

Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Masayuki Naoshima is expected to unveil the outlines of the draft strategy during a speech at the Future of Asia forum in Tokyo Friday afternoon.

The 16 member countries include the 10 ASEAN members, Japan, China and India.

(The Nikkei May 21 evening edition)

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