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Australia and Japan began FTA negotiations in April 2007 after clearing a joint feasibility study (and signing a joint plan for military cooperation). As of April 2012, 15 rounds of talks had been held.

The deal is supposed to be a comprehensive one, but there are serious differences over agriculture, automobiles and energy. Japan has been trying to exclude sensitive farm products — including beef, sugar, dairy, wheat and barley — from the scope of the deal to protect its farmers. Australia, however, wants the preferential market access for farm products beyond what was agreed at WTO. Meanwhile, Japanese farmers and consumers, with full support from groups in Australia, have been mobilising to ensure that any Japan-Australia FTA provides safeguards against GM foods, particularly canola and beef. In effect, since 2007 Australia states have been reneging on their previous GM-free policies and Japanese consumers rely on few sources for GM-free foods like canola oil. Many analysts have viewed the conclusion of this deal as a prerequisite for Japan to enter into Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

last update: May 2012
Photo: spDuchamp/CC BY 2.0

Rice growers slam Japan FTA
Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia President Les Gordon has slammed Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s landmark free trade agreement with Japan as a deal that punishes and ignores ricegrowers.
Few free trade favours from Fortress Japan
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Trade Minister Andrew Robb have hailed the freshly inked free trade agreement with Japan as “historic”. Yes, it is historic in a sense that it is a repeat of the much criticised 2004 free trade agreement with the United States that provide very limited commercial benefits to Australian farmers.
Japan FTA tipped for July
One of Japan’s most influential corporate leaders says he expects Australia and Japan will conclude a free-trade agreement in July.
Concern Australia could get mauled by Japan free trade clause
Japanese companies would be able to sue Australian governments under clauses expected to be included in the Australia-Japan free trade agreement.
FTA could see massive Japan cash splash
A new report to be released today reveals that Japanese companies have stashed away $1.56 trillion cash reserves, the equivalent of Australia’s entire annual economic output — and potentially a source of massive new investments in Australia under a free trade deal.
Bumpy road ahead to Aussie FTA
Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb said substantive issues remained in trade negotiations with Japan as the two nations rushed to conclude a free trade agreement before their prime ministers meet on Monday.
Dairy industry fears a raw deal from Japan FTA
Dairy farmers believe Australia’s free trade agreement with Japan could signed by Monday. But they don’t believe the deal will deliver them anything.
Japan FTA dairy concerns
The push by the Australian Government to have a hand-shake deal done by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, when he visited Japan in April could see dairy miss out, Australian Dairy Farmers president Noel Campbell said.
Japan and Australia fail to agree on tariffs in FTA talks
Japan and Australia failed to reach an agreement over cutting tariffs on farm products during ministerial talks Wednesday in Tokyo and could only confirm they will continue the negotiations.
Free trade deal with Japan took priority over whaling dispute, says Trade Minister Andrew Robb
Australia’s federal government has prioritised a free trade deal with Japan before a dispute between the two countries over whaling in the Southern Ocean, says Trade Minister Andrew Robb.