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Rafidah says Japan-M’sia FTA may be signed in December

Bernama, Malaysia

Rafidah Says Japan-M’sia FTA May Be Signed In December

By Jackson Sawatan

29 August 2005

SINGAPORE, Aug 29 (Bernama) — International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz said she was confident that Malaysia would be able to sign a free trade agreement with Japan by December this year.

She said that all the negotiations had been concluded when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi visited Japan in May.

"We have done all the negotiations when the Prime Minister went to Japan in May," she told a news conference here.

The only thing left now is to put it in legal context, she said.

"The legal scrubbing is being done now...We hope it can be signed by the two prime ministers when they meet at Asean plus Japan meeting in Malaysia in December," said Rafidah who was here for a one-day seminar on business opportunities in Malaysia attended by about 1,200 members of the Singapore business community.

Abdullah and Japan’s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi agreed in May to a basic free-trade agreement known as the Japan-Malaysia Economic Partnership Agreement (JMEPA).

It covers a wide range of economic activities including intellectual property, competition policy, enhancement of business environment, and bilateral cooperation in the fields of agriculture, forestry, fisheries and commodities, education and human resource development, information and communications technology, science and technology, small and medium enterprises, tourism and environment.

It also outlined an FTA that will pave the way for Malaysia to lift heavy tariffs on Japanese cars within 10 years.

On its part, Japan will eliminate tariffs on most farm and fishery products within 10 years.

Both countries were reported to be aiming to sign a formal agreement by December so that the FTA can take effect in 2006.