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Japan business leaders want FTA with Chile

Kyodo | Friday October 22, 2004

Japan head of economic panel with Chile urges bilateral FTA

The head of the Japanese team on a Japan-Chile economic panel asked the Japanese government Friday to boost efforts to conclude a bilateral free trade agreement, Foreign Ministry officials said.

Mitsubishi Corp. Chairman Mikio Sasaki visited Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura at the ministry and presented a written request for the top leaders to discuss the possibility of an FTA next month in Chile.

Sasaki proposed that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Chilean President Ricardo Lagos agree to launch a joint FTA study group with members from the governmental, scholastic and business fields, the officials said.

Koizumi and Lagos are scheduled to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit on Nov. 20-21 in Santiago.

Machimura responded he will notify Koizumi and the government will "consider the matter carefully," according to the officials.

Pointing out that Chile has recently been active in concluding and negotiating bilateral FTAs, Sasaki expressed concern that by not agreeing on a similar pact, Japan could jeopardize economic ties with the South American country, an important resource supplier.

He told Machimura that Chile has seen FTAs go into effect with partners including South Korea, the United States and the European Union since last year and that it has begun FTA negotiations with countries such as China and India, the officials said.

The Japan-Chile economic panel, set up in 1979 to promote economic exchanges between the two countries, has adopted statements in 2002 and 2003 calling for early conclusion of a bilateral FTA.

 source: Kyodo