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Prime ministers spruik benefits of Japan-Australia free trade agreement

ABC News, Australia

Prime ministers spruik benefits of Japan-Australia free trade agreement

By North Asia correspondent Matthew Carney

15 January 2015

Australia has become the first major agricultural nation to implement a free trade agreement with Japan (JAEPA) after seven years of negotiation.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said the historic deal, which comes into effect today, was just the beginning of the two countries strengthening economic ties.

In a joint statement, the two leaders said the free trade agreement was the most significant agreement between Japan and Australia since the 1957 Agreement on Commerce.

"JAEPA lays the foundation for the next phase of bilateral economic relations, and will strengthen "the special strategic partnership" between Japan and Australia," they said.

"JAEPA will deliver significant economic benefits to both countries, through increased trade in high-quality goods and services, an easing of bilateral investment restrictions and promoting economic growth."

The prime ministers said they look forward to Australian and Japanese businesses working together to make the most of the opportunities provided by the agreement.

The Australian Government said the agreement meant a range of Australian agricultural exports would now be able to enter Japan duty free, including prawns, lobsters, asparagus, cherries, grapes, macadamia nuts and almonds.