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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

Japan and Australia nearing FTA deal: Reports
Japan and Australia are moving closer to signing a free trade agreement, officials said Tuesday amid reports the deal will be inked within months.
Mitsubishi boss keen to seal free-trade deal
The chairman of Mitsubishi — a huge investor in Australia’s resource industry — has urged Japan and Australia not to miss the current "window of opportunity" and clinch the long-awaited free-trade agreement.
Cars and cattle clash on Japan free trade agreement
Australia’s meat exporters believe they are being sacrificed for the benefit of the car industry as negotiations for the Australia-Japan free trade agreement draw closer to conclusion.
Australia, Japan close to signing FTA
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade revealed on Wednesday that the country is very close to finally formalizing a free trade agreement with Japan.
Japan, Australia achieve FTA breakthrough on farm products
Japan and Australia have reached a broad agreement on how to deal with farm products as they continue negotiations on a bilateral free-trade agreement, government sources said Sunday.
Japanese poll delays FTA
Australia’s hopes of quickly clinching a free-trade agreement with Japan, its second biggest trading partner, have been dashed by a decision by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to call a general election for December 16.
Gillard cites food security in push for Japanese trade agreement
Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard has used rising concern in Japan about food security to renew the push to finalise a Free Trade Agreement.
Time to seal the deal on Japan FTA: Gillard
Julia Gillard announced last night that it was "time to seal the deal" with Japan on what would be Australia’s biggest bilateral free trade agreement.
Free trade agreement with Japan urgent, say business leader Hugh Morgan
Veteran business and academic figures are warning free trade agreement negotiations between Australia and Japan are now a matter of urgency as challenges from the Asian Century emerge.
Craig Emerson certain FTA deal with Japan is close
Momentum and political will on sealing the long-awaited free trade agreement with Australia are building in Japan, Trade Minister Craig Emerson said yesterday.