International Herald Tribune
Hanoi sets Japan talks
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2006
HELSINKI — The prime ministers of Japan and Vietnam agreed Monday to launch talks on a free trade agreement between the two countries, Japanese officials said.
Junichiro Koizumi of Japan and Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam, the two prime ministers, "agreed to start talks on an economic partnership agreement" when they met on the sidelines of an Asia-Europe summit here, a Japanese official said. Vietnam signed a bilateral trade agreement with the United States five years ago, helping fuel rapid expansion of its economy.
Japan has been increasingly pursuing free trade pacts to secure access to raw materials and markets for its exports.
Its first, with Singapore, took effect in late 2002, and Japan has since agreed deals with Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. Koizumi and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines signed a free trade pact here on Saturday. Japan has ongoing negotiations with South Korea, Indonesia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.