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Australia-Japan trade study to end in Dec.

Associated Press | July 21, 2006

Australia-Japan Trade Study to End in Dec.

CANBERRA, Australia - A feasibility study examining a possible free trade deal between Australia and Japan will be finished by December, possibly allowing negotiations to begin in early 2007, the trade minister said Friday.

Australia and Japan agreed to launch a joint feasibility study last September to review the possibility of a free trade agreement, or FTA, covering goods and services, investment and intellectual property rights.

Trade Minister Mark Vaile said the agreement could open "many new opportunities for Australia," which ranks Japan as its No. 1 trading partner.

"An FTA would cement and further deepen our ties and help to ensure Japan’s future supplies of minerals, energy and food, against the backdrop of increasing demand for resources," Vaile said.

Japan takes one-fifth of Australia’s merchandise exports; mineral and energy exports to the island nation account for 3.5 percent of Australia’s gross domestic product.

Japan and Australia signed a trade and economic framework agreement in 2003 but want to deepen economic links.

 source: Houston Chronicle