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South Africa, Japan plan panel to get FTA ball rolling

The Japan Times: July 8, 2005

South Africa, Japan plan panel to get FTA ball rolling

Japan and South Africa agreed Thursday to form a study group to examine the feasibility of striking a bilateral free-trade agreement, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry said Thursday.

The accord came at a meeting in Tokyo between trade minister Shoichi Nakagawa and South African Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa, the ministry said.

The deal marks the first time that Japan has agreed to set up an FTA study panel with an African country.

The government will consider steps to expedite investments in South Africa, given that aid to Africa is among the key topics on the agenda of the ongoing summit of the Group of Eight nations in Gleneagles, Scotland, ministry officials said.

South Africa is a member of the South African Customs Union, which also includes Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

Japan will proceed with South African FTA talks with an eye to eventually concluding a free-trade pact with the entire SACU, they said.

Japan’s exports to South Africa totaled $2.9 billion in 2004, with automobiles and auto parts being major items.

Imports from South Africa to Japan reached $4.6 billion last year.

 source: Japan Times