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Japan aims to ink free trade deal with ASEAN in November: Abe

Bernama | August 21, 2007

Japan Aims To Ink Free Trade Deal With ASEAN In November: Abe

JAKARTA, Aug 21 (Bernama) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday that Tokyo is aiming to sign a free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in November when leaders from the two sides hold a summit in Singapore, Japanese officials said.

The envisaged FTA would be Japan’s first such deal with a regional bloc. It would liberalize more than 90 percent of bilateral trade by value. Japan is hoping to secure 92 percent, Kyodo News reported.

Abe told Yudhoyono in Jakarta that he expects Japan and the 10-nation bloc to wrap up their negotiations during the Japan-ASEAN economic ministers’ meeting Saturday in the Philippines, paving the way for a signing by their leaders at the November summit, the Japanese officials was quoted as saying.

Abe is on a two-day visit to Indonesia through Tuesday on the first leg of a weeklong Asian tour that will also take him to India and Malaysia.

Along with liberalization of the trade in goods, the Japan-ASEAN trade deal would also facilitate the services trade and investment between the two sides.

The FTA is expected to take effect sometime next year following approval by the parliaments of Japan and ASEAN member states, according to a Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry official.

Trade between Japan and ASEAN totaled 16.4 trillion yen in 2005, making ASEAN Japan’s third-largest trading partner after the United States and China.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It has a combined population of 530 million.

 source: Bernama