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Japan, Malaysia end free-trade talks without agreement

7 November 2004

Japan, Malaysia end free-trade talks without agreement


Nov 7: Japan and Malaysia ended three days of talks on a free-trade agreement (FTA) on Saturday still divided over removing import duties on certain products such as Japanese cars, a news report said.

The two sides agreed to continue the talks in the hope of reaching an agreement by the end of the year, the Kyodo news agency quoted Japanese government officials as saying.

They agreed to continue negotiating to narrow differences over key issues such as abolishing tariffs on Japanese automobile and steel products and plywood imports from Malaysia, the officials said.

No officials were immediately available at the foreign and trade ministries to confirm the report.

Japan was represented by Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs Ichiro Fujisaki, and Malaysia by Ahmad Fuzi Abdul Razak, secretary general of the Malaysian Foreign Ministry, Kyodo said. At the talks, Malaysia has demanded that Japan scrap tariffs on Malaysian plywood imports, the report said.

Japan has balked, arguing that Malaysia could become a transit point for some of the plywood produced through illegal logging in Southeast Asia. Malaysia has cited difficulties of liberalising its government-protected automobile industry, the report added.

In 2003 Japan’s exports to Malaysia, which mainly comprised automobiles, steel and hi-tech products, totalled 1.3 trillion yen (12 billion dollars) while Japanese imports from the country came to 1.5 trillion yen. Japan has concluded free-trade agreements with Singapore and Mexico and is also in FTA talks with the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.

 source: AFP