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Japan, ASEAN sign free trade accord

Xinhua, China

Japan, ASEAN sign free trade accord

28 March 2008

TOKYO, March 28 (Xinhua) — Japan signed a free trade agreement Friday with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to promote trade and investment between the two sides.

Under the accord, Japan will eliminate tariffs on 93 percent by value of imports from ASEAN within 10 years while six major ASEAN members — Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand — will abolish tariffs on 90 percent of imports from Japan within 10 years in terms of both value and the number of items.

Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura signed the agreement with the 10-member body, and the document, which will come into effect in Autumn, is expected to be endorsed by respective ASEAN members within April.

The deal was finalized last November after two and a half years of negotiations. The two sides have been fine-tuning the wording and other procedures ever since.