Japan’s Abe expected to promote free trade during Vietnam visit

By Nhu Lam   January 16, 2017 | 03:16 pm GMT+7
Japan’s Abe expected to promote free trade during Vietnam visit
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc (L) review an honor guard at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam January 16, 2017. Photo to by Reuters/Luong Thai Linh

Abe and other leaders are pushing for renewed efforts to turn the Trans-Pacific Partnership into reality despite Trump’s opposition.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Hanoi on Monday afternoon, starting his two-day visit as part of an Asia-Pacific tour to strengthen cooperation in the region.

He was greeted by his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc and will also meet with Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, President Tran Dai Quang and the country’s top legislator Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan.

Japanese companies will also join the tour and are expected to sign new climate change and infrastructure development agreements with representatives from cities and provinces across Vietnam.

This is Abe’s third Vietnam visit, after one in 2006 and another in 2013.

Vietnam is his final destination of a six-day tour which also included the Philippines, Australia and Indonesia.

The Japan Times cited Japanese officials as saying that the trip was aimed at strengthening security cooperation in the face of China’s rising maritime assertiveness as well as a possible shift to a protectionist trade policy championed by the incoming U.S. President Donald Trump.

“Japan hopes to fulfill a leading role in promoting close coordination with Asia-Pacific nations at a time when uncertainties are increasing in the political, security and economic fields,” a senior official was quoted as saying.

Vietnam is this year’s chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which gathers Pacific Rim economies including the U.S.

During his trip, Abe is expected to highlight the importance of multilateral free trade pacts. Trump has pledged to pull the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which has been signed with 11 other nations including Japan and Vietnam.

Japan is one of Vietnam’s top donors and development partners. It has provided a combined $27.6 billion worth of official development assistance since 1992, nearly a third of all foreign aid to Vietnam.

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