Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo, Feb. 12, 2006
Japan, ASEAN to resume free trade talks
Takashi Kikuchi Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent
Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed Saturday to resume official free trade agreement negotiations in March, as ASEAN welcomed Japan’s proposal of a common tariff-elimination method.
At unofficial talks in Jakarta, Japan and ASEAN confirmed that the two sides both want a basic FTA agreement by the end of March in line with the initial schedule.
At the meeting, Japan proposed it should be entitled to the same tariff-elimination methods that ASEAN members observe with each other.
Saturday’s decision paved the way back to FTA talks between Japan and ASEAN, which have been stalled since April.
Japan’s proposal had two major points, which were:
– When Japan negotiates tariffs under the accord with the whole of ASEAN, a uniform time frame for the elimination of tariffs will be set for all ASEAN members.
– A common guideline will be set for seven major ASEAN economies, including Brunei and Vietnam, that tariffs should be abolished for at least 90 percent of trade items within 10 years.