Japan will hold its first joint study meetings separately with Switzerland and Australia next week in Tokyo to explore the possibility of concluding bilateral free trade agreements, the government said Wednesday.
An independent report says a free-trade accord between Switzerland and the United States would have "extremely valuable benefits" for both countries.
The Bush administration said it’s considering separate entreaties from Egypt, Malaysia, South Korea and Switzerland to negotiate free-trade agreements with them.
The Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce warns that Switzerland must now seize the chance for a free-trade agreement with the United States.
Prudish about bilateral free-trade agreements just five years ago, Tokyo is now fielding partnership requests from 25 economies and regional blocs. But there is no denying an element of haphazardness in the way it is selecting some of the candidates.
An FTA with Switzerland, to be reached by April, would allow Japan to strengthen its position to fight back pressure to open up its agricultural market.
Japan has been lagging behind other industrialized nations in pursuing bilateral or regional agreements. It now needs a strategy as it tries to catch up with the global trend.