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 Wednesday 25 February - FCCJ Luncheon Meeting

Speaker:
H.E. Mr. Jorma Julin, Ambassador of Finland to Japan

Theme:
The Economic Integration in Asia

Summary
In his presentation, Ambassador Julin focused on the following ponts:
  • from business driven to also government driven
  • free trade agreements (FTAs) and economic partnership agreements (EPAs)
  • EU and Asia relations: FTA/EPA perspective
  • Global economic crisis and East Asia: what happens to FTA/EPA negotiations?
  • Economic nationalism and protectionism looming
  • President Obama's trade policy?
  • Future of Asian Economic integration

    As for Japan, it has FTA/EPA agreements with Singapore, Mexico, Malaysia, Chile, Thailand, Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam Switzerland and ASEAN. Negotiations are in an advanced phase with India and ongoing with Australia and the Gulf Cooperative Council. Japan -South Korea talks have been refrozen last August.

    There is a growing interest for, and studies underway, mainly by business organizations, for some kind of economic integration agreement (EIA) with the EU. Ambassador Julin pointed out however that there are problems on both sides - cars and electronics being a difficult issue on the European side and in Japan, mainly Keidanren and METI are driving the matter, while other ministries show limited interest.

    According to Ambassador Julin, there are still much uncertainty over President Obama's trade policy. In his campaign he was a strong proponent for "fair trade", "American jobs" and "stronger labor and environmental standards in FTAs". Although it it probable that Obama will continue to show some gratitude to labor unions and other protectionist forces for their support in his campaign, internal and external lobbying will probably see to it that he will not go too far, being aware of the risk of a trade war.

    The luncheon was ended with a very active Q&A session (read some of the questions and responses in the picture captions below).

    Images from the event

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    FCCJ President Mika Mäkinen starts the proceedings.
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    New Nokia Japan President Mauri Ukonmaanaho introduces himself.
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    Guest Michael Gabrielsson form Mercuri International K.K. introduces himself.
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    Ambassador Jorma Julin starts his presentation.
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    From left: Isamu Maeda, Kanji Ohashi (hidden), Quentin O'Mahony, Hisako Noto, Yukio Sakurai, Kaj Forsell (hidden), Takao Hashimoto and Tokiko Horiuchi.
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    From left: Esa Setälä, Michael Gabrielsson, Pertti Mero, Takaaki Satake, Hiroaki Sugawara, Shigeyoshi Noto, Fujio Ota and Mitsutaka Shoji
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    From left: Yasuji Ishigaki, Kimio Hashida, Isao Nishimura, Timo Varhama , Masaoki Fujita, Marko Saarelainen (hidden) and Mauri Ukonmaanaho.
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    From left: Tetsuro Urabe, Atsushi Odaira, Mikako Kii, Jukka Viitanen, Pekka Laitinen, Juha Niemi and Eero Tammila.
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    From left: Takao Hashimoto, Tokiko Horiuchi, Yukio Sakurai, Isamu Maeda, Kanji Ohashi, Quentin O'Mahony, Hisako Noto and Kaj Forsell.
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    The event at Hotel Okura was attended by 33 members and guests.
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    Start of the Q&A session - the speaker is prepared to face questions.
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    Timo Varhama asks if the support packages applied by many governments are in line with WTO rules.
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    'Necessarily not, but not much you can do in current deep recession'
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    Not approving? Many different faces...
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    'Duel between Ambassadors'; Former Ambassador of Japan to Finland, Yasuji Ishigaki asks whether FTAs and EPAs are needed, wouldn't WTO be enough?
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    Ambassador Julin's response briefly; with more than 150 countries in the WTO it is very slow. FTAs ad EPAs add speed and coverage.
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