This year marks the 50th anniversaries of both ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations) and JAMA (the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association). Ever since production of Japanese automobiles began more than a half century ago, JAMA member companies have been consistently expanding local production, transferring technology, procuring ever-greater numbers of locally-produced parts, and cooperating closely with their ASEAN partners.

Today, JAMA member companies operate nearly 100 factories and facilities within the region and based on data for 2016, 83% of all automobiles sold (2.63 million units out of 3.15 million in total) were by Japanese carmakers. Additionally, the factories of the JAMA members produced a total of 3.58 million vehicles, of which 930,000 were exported to markets outside ASEAN.

Quality assurance checks on a Toyota vehicle body structure at ASSB, one of the oldest assembly plants in Malaysia.

Besides providing direct employment to some 157,000 people in the region, JAMA and its member companies have provided strong and sustained support for the global competitiveness of the ASEAN auto industry and are working to ensure — through the achievement of greater safety and environmental protection goals, among others — truly sustainable development.

In order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and enhance energy security, ASEAN countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia have begun promoting next-generation hybrid and electric vehicles by introducing policies that encourage their production and use. JAMA is supporting these efforts and sharing relevant knowledge and experience in coordination with the Japanese government.

Governments having policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions have been supported by Japanese carmakers which provide hybrid models. In Malaysia, for example, the National Automotive Policy provides incentives for companies that assemble Energy Efficient Vehicles such as the Honda Jazz Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid locally.

On the technical front, JAMA continues to work closely with the ASEAN Automotive Federation in support of early adoption of the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) for automotive technical regulations (based on UN regulations under the 1958 Agreement). This is an important step which will enable more efficient production and distribution of vehicles when technical regulations are harmonised.

Beyond production and sales, Japanese automakers continue to strongly support Corporate Social Responsibility efforts furthering good corporate citizenship throughout the region. One example: in support of environmental protection, JAMA members undertook multiple tree planting activities facilitating forest conservation. Events such as the Toyota Classics concerts also help to raise funds for charity in various countries. Recognizing the critical role of road safety, JAMA members also directly support safe driving education and safety awareness efforts.

As a tool of creating sustainable regional growth, JAMA has endorsed the ASEAN-centered Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) economic integration agreement. The RCEP will engage nearly half the world’s population (3.4 billion people) and almost one-third of the world’s total GDP (US$20 trillion). Given the size and scope of participation, significant benefits are expected.

[Chips Yap]

 

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