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Japan eyes launching FTA talks with India, Vietnam next year

International Herald Tribune

Japan eyes launching FTA talks with India, Vietnam next year

The Associated Press

28 September 2006

TOKYO. Japan wants to launch separate talks with India and Vietnam next year to develop bilateral free trade agreements, reflecting new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to expand such pacts through Asia, a news report said Thursday.

Abe plans to discuss the possibility when he meets with his counterparts from the two countries when they separately visit Japan later this year, Kyodo News agency said.

Japan has launched a study group with India to lay the ground work for full-fledged talks, while preparing to launch similar talks with Vietnam.

Japan has free trade deals with Singapore, Mexico and Malaysia, and recently concluded talks with Chile and signed an agreement with the Philippines as Tokyo steps up efforts to expand the pacts to keep its economy afloat and compete with China, which is moving ahead in forming regional trade pacts.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung is scheduled to visit Japan in mid-October and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to travel to Japan in December, to hold their first summit talks with Abe, Kyodo said.

Abe’s former boss, Junichiro Koizumi, and Singh adopted an FTA report compiled by a joint study group when they met in St. Petersburg in July on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit.

Koizumi also met with Dung in Helsinki during the Asia-Europe Meeting earlier this month, when they were willing to start FTA talks at an early date, Kyodo said.

Japan mainly exports machinery, appliances and steel to India and imports jewelry, marine products, iron ore and textiles from the South Asian nation. Main Japanese exports to Vietnam include machinery, steel and auto parts, while imports from Vietnam include fisheries products, garments and electronics parts.