Tuesday May 9 2006
Australia, Japan set to launch FTA talks
Australia and Japan expect to launch negotiations on a free trade deal late this year or early in 2007, Trade Minister Mark Vaile said.
Last year, Australia and Japan decided to look at the pros and cons of a free trade deal, which could possibly pave the way for the start of negotiations on a free trade agreement.
Japan is Australia’s biggest trading partner but faces opposition from its powerful farm lobby which has been unwilling to open its markets to agricultural products from other nations.
Mr Vaile told parliament that Australia and Japan had agreed to expedite the feasibility study.
"We have now agreed with Japan to expedite the completion of that feasibility study so that it will be concluded this year," he said.
"That will give us an opportunity to launch FTA negotiations with Japan, our largest trading partner, by the end of this year or early next year."