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In October 2003, the governments of Japan and of the 10-country Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed a general framework for a bilateral free trade agreement. In November 2004, they agreed to initiate the negotiating process. The talks started in April 2005 and ended in November 2007, and the agreement came into force on 1 December 2008.

For the Japanese government, this FTA was an important target as it tries to achieve a stronger position in Asia vis-à-vis China, Korea and United States. The finalisation of the US-Korea FTA talks in April 2007 jolted Tokyo into higher gear to get this deal completed.

The Japan-ASEAN FTA (officially a Comprehensive Economic Partnership) is a comprehensive one, covering trade in goods, services, investments, rules of origin, dispute settlement, sanitary and phyto-sanitary regulations, technical barriers to trade, economic cooperation and, on Japan’s request, intellectual property rights. For groups in Southeast Asia, it is seen as formalising ASEAN’s role as a regional manufacturing hub for Japanese corporations. It is now easier and cheaper for Japanese firms to move components (of automobiles, electronics, etc) from one ASEAN country to another, in a regional assembly line.

last update: May 2012
Photo: Government of India - licensed under the Government Open Data License - India (GODL)

Japan to prioritize FTA negotiations with ASEAN
Japanese cabinet ministers agreed on Thursday to accelerate negotiations on bilateral free trade agreements (FTA), placing top priority on FTA talks with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Japan to resume free-trade talks with Asean in April
The Japanese government has decided to resume stalled talks with Asean over signing a free-trade deal from next month, as other Asian nations rush to conclude such agreements.
Japan, ASEAN to resume free trade talks
Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed Saturday to resume official free trade agreement negotiations in March, as ASEAN welcomed Japan’s proposal of a common tariff-elimination method.
Japan can help ASEAN integration
Japan plays a key role in promoting economic integration in Southeast Asia by helping to narrow the gap between developed and less developed countries in the region, scholars from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations told a recent symposium in Tokyo.
Japan, ASEAN trade ministers fail to break impasse in FTA talks
apan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations failed to narrow their differences on launching free trade negotiations between the two sides during a ministerial meeting on Thursday.
Japan needs trade pact with ASEAN
Analysts have said it is a matter of time before China will replace Japan as the ASEAN’s largest trade partner.
Japan, ASEAN kick off FTA talks
Japan and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations kicked off their first round of formal negotiations in Tokyo on Wednesday for a free trade agreement with the aim of completing the talks within two years.
Japan-ASEAN: Step back to save deal, says researcher
Asean and Japan should take a step back from the thorniest issues under discussion in order to move forward toward a fruitful free trade area (FTA) agreement, according to a prominent researcher from the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI).
Japan eager to push for FTA with ASEAN
The Japanese Government on Tuesday gave the go-ahead to start negotiations with ASEAN member countries on a Japan-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA).


  • Japan-ASEAN FTA
    Official webpage on the Japan-ASEAN FTA maintained by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs