- There is an increasingly urgent need for East Asian investment cooperation.
- East Asian investment cooperation has to be strengthened to sustain rapid economic growth. Foreign investment is one of the major factors for economic growth in most East Asian economies. Continuous and sufficient input of capital has to be ensured to maintain steady economic growth.
- Quickened urbanization leads to huge demand for investment in urban infrastructure and agricultural industrialization. It is estimated that from 2006 to 2010 US$1 trillion will be needed for infrastructure building in East Asia. This is particularly meaningful to narrow the gap between developed and less developed nations.
- Regionalization of FDI has become increasingly conspicuous. EU, North America, and East Asia have attracted around 80% of the global FDI. Moreover, intraregional mutual investment ratio has gone up. In 2004, the ratio was as high as 70% in EU and 51% in North America. East Asia is obviously lagging behind, with a rate of 25%. Besides, East Asia's share of global FDI inflow is 13.1%, lower than that of EU (48.9%) and North America (15.1%).
- Attracting FDI, especially SMEs investment is vital for economic growth, employment and balance of trade of developing countries, However many SMEs will not invest overseas unless necessary conditions, including national treatment and transparency of investment rules, are arranged. For this purpose, to incorporate common international investment rules in a coming East Asian Free Trade Agreement is very important.
- East Asian investment cooperation will be helpful in fighting against global economic risks, such as the oil price surge.
- Foreign reserves and savings in the region shall be better utilized. Intraregional investment in areas of potential development will promise safer and better returns.
- The overall environment for East Asian investment cooperation has been improving.
- The political will has been strengthened. ASEAN signed and implemented “Framework Agreement on the ASEAN Investment Area" to attract investment and to promote free capital flow. China, Japan and ROK have carried out joint researches on relevant issues and made important headway. On a bilateral basis, investment protection has been strengthened along with investment promotion.
- Progress has been made in other aspects of regional cooperation. The Kuala Lumpur Declaration adopted at the last ASEAN Plus Three Summit reconfirmed the long-term goal of an East Asian community. China's continued economic growth provides an opportunity for closer regional economic cooperation. The size of the swap under Chiang Mai Initiative has expanded by 90% within one year. The rapid development of Asian bond market has provided an effective financing channel.
- There are still difficulties in the area of investment cooperation.
- Regional institutional and capacity building lags behind. Investment cooperation calls for a trilateral cooperation with governments, business, and academic circles as active participants. It also needs coordination of the activities of the many existing institutions. The low level of institutionalization has been a setback for further investment cooperation.
- The gap between the rich and the poor nations poses great difficulties for the region. Giving greater consideration to the needs of the less developed countries in investment cooperation is an issue that needs to be addressed.
- There is a lack of effective measures in protecting the interests of the investor and the recipient. On the part of the investor, small and medium enterprises are particularly vulnerable, for they are at a disadvantageous position when it comes to raising money, developing technology, and gathering information and market competition. On the part of the recipient, less developed countries are most vulnerable, for there are loopholes in their legal systems, their environment could be damaged, and their workers could be maltreated.
- People's awareness of the importance of investment cooperation shall be raised through education. Unfortunately, most countries have very few institutions and programs to accomplish this.
1. Role of Governments/Markets
Some argue that governments should play a more important role to promote investment cooperation and others argue that the role of the market is the most important.
Many believe that a way of investment cooperation with characteristics of East Asia should be explored, while some colleague argues that more international rules shall be applied.
3. Institutional Framework
Some believe that it is most practical to use the existing institutions to strengthen East Asian investment cooperation, while others think that existing institutions, such as APEC, are ineffective.
4. China's Policy Adjustments
There is some worry that China's domestic investment policy adjustments may reduce incentives for investment, while others argue that China's policy adjustments mean to further economic development and cooperation.
- Set up a joint research by governments, business communities and academic circles on investment cooperation in East Asia under the framework of East Asian Free Trade Area that is to be established, with NEAT as the coordinator.
- Set up a single and integrated East Asian investment promotion center, and an integrated service network for East Asian investment cooperation within the 10 plus 3 framework. The function is to coordinate the work of many existing similar institutions.
- Set up a dispute management center to deal with frictions and disputes during the investment cooperation process.