Regional economic integration is stronger when complementarity and synergy effects are generated between “de jure” economic integration and close economic relations achieved autonomously through market-led /business-driven integration. This observation is important when we consider bringing closer the economic ties between Asia Pacific and Latin America.
Japan has a large potential to contribute to the development of such economic ties. This is precisely because of the unique position that Japan has long retained both in East Asia and Latin America, and its catalytic role for the process of industrial development and structural transformation. The industrial structural transformation brought about by regional integration and expansion of economic relations should not merely aim at achieving higher economic growth. Efforts are needed for the transformation to lead to a high-quality growth: namely, inclusive, innovative, and sustainable growth.
Many East Asian countries have been shifting their policies intended to transform their industrial structure towards more inclusive and knowledge/technology-based activities. Likewise, in Latin America, proposals have been made to transform its industrial structure and aim for a more equitable society. The APEC Growth Strategy, adopted in 2010, has drawn attention from such perspectives, advocating the pursuit of “high quality growth.”
Likewise, the Development Cooperation Charter of Japan delivered in 2015 set “high quality growth” as one of its goals in development cooperation. When Japan promotes the establishment of closer economic ties between East Asia and Latin America discussed above, it could contribute to the transformation of the industrial structure and growth and development which is inclusive, innovative, and sustainable, and capable of enhancing resilience to disaster —all of which are aimed for by every country of both regions.