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  Business Times 7 Nov 07
New institute to come up with energy solutions
By Chuang Peck Ming

SINGAPORE is keen to work with Japan and other countries in projects like energy-saving through the newly set up Economic Research Institute of Asean and East Asia (ERIA).

Speaking at a symposium on East Asian economic integration yesterday, Minister of State for Trade and Industry S Iswaran said Singapore is interested in such a tie-up to develop its capabilities in energy efficiency, in which Japan is a leader.

He suggested that the ERIA, which is expected to be endorsed by Asian leaders later this month, hold joint seminars or workshops with energy research institutes based in Asean states.

The ERIA, first proposed by Japan at the 2nd East Asia Summit in January, has produced a test-run project titled 'Energy Saving in East Asia', which Mr Iswaran said 'demonstrates the potential of ERIA to provide substantive research on the energy-saving potential of East Asia and Asean, as well as the economics of biomass utilisation and biofuel standards'.

He further suggested that the ERIA, set up to play a key role in promoting East Asian economic integration, can also be a leader in aspects of climate change research.

Energy efficiency, made all the more important by rising concerns about climate change, is a key challenge in the pursuit of economic progress and further integration in Asean and East Asia, said Mr Iswaran.

Kanae Yamamoto, Japan's Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, stressed that energy security and climate change will be an 'urgent priority' that has to be addressed by a more integrated Asia. 'We must become 'one Asia' as soon as possible, so that we take control of common problems confronting us.'

The ERIA, which is to be located in one of the Asean countries, and to which Japan has pledged $120 million for 10 years, will have a role to play in tackling these complex issues, according to Ms Yamamoto.

'The ERIA will play the role of a collective brain trust that can call upon a vast store of wisdom to grapple together with the many problems common to the region,' she said.

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