Australia and Japan began FTA negotiations in April 2007 after clearing a joint feasibility study (and signing a joint plan for military cooperation). As of April 2012, 15 rounds of talks had been held.

The deal is supposed to be a comprehensive one, but there are serious differences over agriculture, automobiles and energy. Japan has been trying to exclude sensitive farm products — including beef, sugar, dairy, wheat and barley — from the scope of the deal to protect its farmers. Australia, however, wants the preferential market access for farm products beyond what was agreed at WTO. Meanwhile, Japanese farmers and consumers, with full support from groups in Australia, have been mobilising to ensure that any Japan-Australia FTA provides safeguards against GM foods, particularly canola and beef. In effect, since 2007 Australia states have been reneging on their previous GM-free policies and Japanese consumers rely on few sources for GM-free foods like canola oil. Many analysts have viewed the conclusion of this deal as a prerequisite for Japan to enter into Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

last update: May 2012


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  • 13-Dec-2006 ABC Aust, Japan free trade agreement likely worth billions
    Despite growing concern in Japan over the impact a free trade agreement could have on local farmers, Prime Minister John Howard and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe have agreed to begin formal negotiations in the new year. Mr Howard says agriculture will be included.
  • 5-Dec-2006 The Age Japan approves FTA talks with Australia
    Cabinet ministers for international trade matters have approved a joint report submitted by Japanese and Australian experts recommending initiating talks on a bilateral free trade agreement, government officials said.
  • 5-Dec-2006 Joint study for enhancing economic relations between Japan and Australia, including the feasibility or pros and cons of a free trade agreement
    The study group concluded that a comprehensive and WTO-consistent EPA/FTA would bring about considerable benefits to both countries.
  • 1-Dec-2006 ABC Japanese farmers oppose FTA with Australia
    Australia’s proposed Free Trade Agreement with Japan is facing stiff opposition from Japanese farmers. The deal, if finalised, would be Australia’s largest bilateral trade agreement, and could open the traditionally closed Japanese market to Australian agricultural products. But Japanese farmers say the deal puts their futures at risk.
  • 15-Nov-2006 The Australian All foods on the table in trade talks with Japan
    Free access for all Australian farm products to the Japanese market will be on the table when free trade agreement negotiations start, but some won’t be there at the finish.
  • 16-Oct-2006 AAP Rio lobbies for Japan free trade
    Rio Tinto Australia managing director Charlie Lenegan told an Australia-Japan business conference in Sydney today the foundation for such a treaty had been laid over the past 50 years, since the signing of a Commerce Agreement between the pair in 1957.
  • 28-Sep-2006 Japan gets serious about trade deal
    When the idea of a free trade agreement with Japan was floated four years ago, there was not much enthusiasm in Tokyo.
  • 22-Sep-2006 Japan looks to limit FTA proposal
    A proposed free-trade deal between Australia and Japan is looking shaky, with agriculture again the most contentious issue.
  • 21-Sep-2006 Japan trade talks set to start
    The Federal Government has flagged the possibility of negotiations for a free trade agreement with Japan, beginning in December.
  • 19-Sep-2006 Nippon Keidanren Nippon Keidanren: Urgent request for the commencement of the Japan-Australia economic partnership agreement negotiations
    What Japan wants is the conclusion of an EPA with Australia that is not limited simply to trade liberalization, but is comprehensive in character, further enhancing bilateral economic relations, and eliminating disadvantages relative to other countries.
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