Thursday May 12, 2005
Japan, Indonesia Set to Launch Free-Trade Talks; Japan, Malaysia to Hold Next Round
TOKYO (AP) — Japan and Indonesia are expected to agree to formally open free trade talks during an upcoming visit to Tokyo by the Indonesian president, a Japanese official said Thursday.
Japan and Malaysia will also have their next round of negotiations aimed at establishing a free trade agreement as early as next week, Vice Trade Minister Hideji Sugiyama said.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to visit Japan from May 31 to June 3. His visit will include a summit with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in which the two leaders are expected to agree to start FTA talks, Sugiyama told reporters.
A joint panel had recommended pursuing formal FTA talks last month following preparatory talks begun in January, he said.
On Malaysia, Sugiyama said that while the two sides had held a round of FTA talks earlier this week, they "remain apart." He did not elaborate.
The upcoming vice-ministerial level talks will aim to narrow those differences, he said.
"We will do our utmost to sign a pact that is mutually beneficial as soon as possible," Sugiyama said.
Kyodo News agency said Japan and Malaysia aim to settle negotiations by late May ahead of a visit by Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi scheduled for May 25-26.
While the two sides have reached a basic accord on agricultural and marine products, there remain differences on industrial products, including auto parts and steel, and Malaysia’s protection of its domestic automobile industry, Kyodo said.