VNA.Net (Vietnam News Agency)
Japan urged to compromise more in FTA talks
24 August 2005
Tokyo, August 24 (VNA) - ASEAN General Secretary Ong Keng Yong has called on Japan make more compromises in free trade talks between the country and the regional grouping.
The ASEAN chief, who is on a visit to Japan made the call on August 24 because Tokyo has been reluctant to open its market, especially to farm products, according to Kyodo.
Noting that the Republic of Korea is politically more committed to opening up its market to ASEAN than Japan, Ong said, ’’If you want to hold your position in the market, you have to bargain’’.
ASEAN and Japan began official FTA negotiations in April with the aim of completing the talks within two years. Meanwhile, ASEAN and the RoK kicked off similar talks in February, also setting a two-year timeframe for their conclusion.
Ong said that prices of tropical fruits sold in Japan are high, saying he gave up buying mangoes and bananas in Tokyo because one mango was priced at 1,000 JPY and a bunch of bananas at 600 JPY.
If Japan keeps its protectionist policy during FTA negotiations, it will deprive farmers in ASEAN countries of jobs, Ong said, adding that ASEAN countries want to export more to Japan.
Regarding the first East Asia Summit set for December in Malaysia, Ong said ASEAN countries are in favour of ’’non-exclusion’’ principles, yet US participation as an observer could put other member states in an awkward position