Jakarta Post, 2 June 2005
Japan and Indonesia agree to begin talks on free trade deal
TOKYO (AFP): Japan and Indonesia agreed on Wednesday to begin negotiations over a free trade agreement (FTA) as early as next month, as Tokyo tries to secure regional clout through trade deals in Southeast Asia.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is on a four-day visit to Japan, reached the understanding on the FTA talks in a meeting with Trade Minister Shoichi Nakagawa, an official said.
"The actual negotiations at a working level will start as early as July," said the official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Yudhoyono will announce a formal agreement on the beginning of the FTA talks at a summit scheduled on Thursday, according to the official.
A joint study group by the two countries proposed in April that they pursue talks on an FTA.
Japan last week agreed on an FTA with Malaysia, its third free trade deal after those with Singapore and Mexico. Japan has also opened FTA talks with the Philippines and Thailand.
The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said Japan is preparing a major fund that would negotiate FTAs with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations and aid its less developed members in a bid in part to ward off growing Chinese influence in the region.