The government is planning to work with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to promote the development of the aviation industry, according to informed sources.

As its first step, Japan will create a cooperation framework with the Malaysian government, which positions aircraft as a strategic industry, the sources said Saturday.

While Tokyo has signed a memorandum of cooperation and other agreements with U.S. and European governments and companies, it will be the first time for Japan to enter into such an agreement with an Asian nation.

Through such moves, the government hopes to speed up private-sector collaborative projects in the growing ASEAN market.

Japan’s industry ministry and Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry will hold a meeting in mid-February on the sidelines of Singapore Airshow 2020, and are expected to agree on setting up a bilateral cooperation framework, the sources said.

Under the framework, the two sides will boost cooperation over the manufacturing process of Japanese and Malaysian aircraft parts makers. Japan will also provide the Southeast Asian nation with support over human resource development, including sending experts and accepting trainees.

Malaysia has declared that it aims to become the biggest aerospace nation in Southeast Asia by 2030.

Major U.S. aerostructures manufacturer Spirit AeroSystems Inc. and other firms have set up manufacturing bases in Malaysia.

Japanese aircraft parts makers such as Wada Aircraft Technology Co. and Imai Aero-Equipment Mfg Co. have also expanded their businesses into the country.

As the aviation industry is expected to see a surge in demand in Asia, major U.S. and European manufacturers are rushing to build a parts supply network in ASEAN nations.

Total sales of Japan’s aircraft industry came to some ¥1.8 trillion in 2018.

With the government aiming to boost such sales to around ¥3 trillion in 2030, an industry ministry official voiced expectations that the strengthened partnership with Malaysia will lead to an increase in earnings for Japanese companies.