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Japan, GCC to resume FTA talks - 16 July 2023

Japan, GCC to Resume FTA Talks

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Jasem al-Budaiwi Sunday agreed that the two sides will start talks aimed at resuming negotiations on a free trade agreement next year.

Kishida told Budaiwi in a meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, that Japan will expand friendly relations with GCC member countries.

Japan relies on GCC members for over 90 pct of crude oil supply and about 20 pct of natural gas supply. The GCC groups Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar.

The GCC countries impose a 5 pct tariff on imports in general. The Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, last December called on the Japanese government to resume FTA talks with the GCC at an early date.

FTA talks between Japan and the GCC have been suspended since 2009. Keidanren in its December policy proposal warned that if China, South Korea and India conclude FTAs with the GCC ahead of Japan, "Japanese companies will be absolutely disadvantaged in their access to markets in the GCC countries."