SOUTHEAST Asian nations called on Japan Saturday to provide more access to its market to reduce their growing trade deficits.
Economic ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations made the call in a meeting with Japan's minister of international trade and industry. ASEAN is made up of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
A statement that ASEAN officials released at the end of the one-day meeting said the Japanese minister, Ryutaro Hashimoto, responded to the call by saying the trade deficit reflected an increase in imports from Japan such as factory machines that are contributing to ASEAN economic growth.
Mr. Hashimoto added that there had been a marked increase in Japanese imports of manufactured products from ASEAN, and added that Tokyo was committed to increasing imports further and deregulating its market.
He noted that the value of trade between Japan and ASEAN has increased 1.9 times over the past five years, while Japan's manufactured imports from ASEAN increased three times during the same period.
Hashimoto said Japan welcomed the opportunity to join forces with Southeast Asian nations to develop their region.
``A partnership between Japan and ASEAN is expected to add momentum to economic development within this region, which, in turn, will contribute to global economic growth,'' the Japanese minister added.