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Japan Looks To Get Trump Back On Board For Asia-Pacific Free Trade

Tokyo sees the TPP, which would have covered 40% of all global trade, as a “gold standard” of trade deals, given its inclusion of provisions not usually found in most trade deals, such as labor standards and governance and transparency standards.

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While North Korea has been taking up the headlines of US Vice-President Pence’s trip to South Korea and Japan, a little noticed meeting is taking place tomorrow in Tokyo that could spark the re-ignition of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that new President Trump ditched almost immediately after coming into office.

It is worth remembering that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was among the first world leaders to meet with Trump in Miami, and now Vice-President Pence is scheduled to meet with Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso on Tuesday.

Japan is looking to get the United States back on track as regards the aborted TPP deal, and will be asking Washington to show some sort of commitment to Asia-Pac Free Trade.

If necessary, Tokyo is prepared to go it without the United States. Mr Aso, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, said last week “I want Japan and US to take the lead in creating (trade) rules that other nations in the region can adopt.”

Related: China Lays Foundations for Eurasian Free Trade After TPP Failure

Tokyo sees the TPP, which would have covered 40% of all global trade, as a “gold standard” of trade deals, given its inclusion of provisions not usually found in most trade deals, such as labor standards and governance and transparency standards.

Japan is now working to resurrect the pact with just 11 members, local media reported yesterday. The other signatories are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

It remains unclear whether a “TPP-lite” agreement without the United States would be of much use or interest to countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam. These two in particular would have benefited from the US market open to them for the sale of raw products, while American businesses in both food and textiles would have benefited by securing a non-Chinese source of raw materials and by adding value to create end consumer products – a point seemingly lost on the Trump administration.

It also remains unclear whether Japan would countenance any Chinese involvement. The TPP itself may be a dead deal, but it is possible it could be re-invented under a “Trump TPP” that he can be seen to approve and that would still secure for American business interests, raw Asian materials at zero import tariffs for them to add value too, and spin it as a “job creating” exercise. With the Trump administration capable of U-turns and learning fast on the job, Vice-President Pence may yet come away from Tokyo with clearer thoughts about the United States trade involvement with Asia.

 

CDE Op-Ed Commentary

Asia Briefing Ltd. is a subsidiary of Dezan Shira & Associates. Dezan Shira is a specialist foreign direct investment practice, providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in China, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Singapore and the rest of ASEAN. For further information, please email asia@dezshira.com or visit www.dezshira.com.

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Business

How Asia could be the winner in the US and China’s Belt and Road race

The world’s three largest economies – the US, China and Japan – are actively manoeuvring for economic and geopolitical influence through infrastructure funding

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Infrastructure development has become one of the great battlegrounds of our time.

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Companies

Hino To establish a development and production base in Thailand

Once the factory begins operation in 2021, Hino will first start off by producing vehicles for the domestic Thai market

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Japanese motor Company to push forward with locally led manufacturing of best-fit products to quickly respond to customer needs in close proximity

Under this new setup, Hino will be constructing a new center in Bang Bo, Samutprakarn Province to consolidate and strengthen our product planning, development, and production functions for best-fit products in ASEAN.

The site has an area of roughly 400,000 sqm. Construction is scheduled to begin in July 2019 with operations to begin in 2021.

The new center will consist of the new plant’s production area, and a development area centered around a test track. The total investment amount is expected to be roughly 11.5 billion yen.

Operations to begin in 2021

Once the factory begins operation in 2021, we will first start off by producing vehicles for the domestic Thai market, and expect to begin supplying ASEAN best-fit vehicles to other emerging markets by roughly 2024.

Hino Motors, Ltd. (HQ: Hino City, Tokyo, President & CEO: Yoshio Shimo; hereafter “Hino,”) and Hino Motors Manufacturing Thailand, Ltd. (HQ: Samrong, Samutprakarn Province, President: Somchai Pleankaew; hereafter “HMMT”), our manufacturing company in Thailand, in order to achieve our vision of “Corporate strategy 2025” and enable us to respond to customer needs in close proximity, will be taking steps in Thailand, one of our key centers of operation, to accelerate our efforts to strengthen our business foundation in ASEAN.

By newly appointed Mr. Somchai Pleankaew, who has an exceptional career background with Hino, to president of HMMT, we will be creating an organizational setup that will enable us to drive our business in a locally led manner.

Mr. Somchai Pleankaew, who assumed the office of president of HMMT as of Feb 1 has this to say:
HMMT will put all of our effort to make this project successful in order to enable the growth of our company. Our aim is to serve all customers to their greatest satisfaction by providing the best-fit products and total support customized for each vehicle.

In addition, as a center of Monozukuri, including product planning, development, and production, as well as Total Support in ASEAN, Hino Thailand will collaborate and go forward with Hino in ASEAN in order to grow and strengthen together to support the growth of our customers’ businesses in the ASEAN region.

The Hino Group will be reforming its business structure to achieve sustainable growth leading up to 2025. We position Thailand as one of our key markets for sales in the ASEAN region, our second pillar after the Japanese market. The country is also one of our key business centers and a driver of Monozukuri and Total Support within the region.

The new center to be constructed will consolidate and strengthen our product planning, development, and production functions in Thailand.

New center overview

NameSuvarnabhumi Monozukuri Center
LocationBang Bo, Samutprakarn Province
Site area400,000 sqm
FunctionsProduct planning, development, and production of Hino vehicles
Products producedLight- and medium-duty trucks and buses
Operation startup dateScheduled for 2021
EmployeesApprox. 1,300 (at the time of operation startup)

As a “Monozukuri Center” it will be designed with the capability to commercialize and supply ASEAN best-fit products locally and consistently. In addition to increased coordination between different functions, we will be taking steps in product development to push forward with localization of product development by upgrading organizational setups and constructing a new test track so that we will be able to respond to customer needs quickly and accurately at close customer proximity. In the area of production, the production functions that are currently distributed across existing plants in Thailand will be consolidated at the new center to improve production efficiency.

Furthermore, know-how from the Koga Plant―our global mother plant―will be actively incorporated into the plant to create a system that will enable us to deliver competitive products to our customers in a timely fashion.

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Japan

Japan overtakes Thailand as most welcoming country for Chinese

The survey conducted by Hotels.com also showed that the new generation of Chinese travellers’ preferences have changed.

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Thailand and Japan have swapped their top positions as the countries Chinese travellers felt comfortable visiting in the latest survey by Hotels.com. (more…)

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