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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, Australia apart on FTA talks
Japan and Australia kicked off five days of talks in Canberra Monday on sealing a free-trade agreement as persistent differences remained on agricultural products.
Aussie FTA said still far off as talks end
A four-day meeting between Japan and Australia on reaching a bilateral free-trade agreement ended Friday in Tokyo, with officials saying the two sides addressed a wide range of areas, including agricultural products, automobiles and energy.
Japan, Australia diplomats agree to work toward restart of FTA talks
Japan’s new Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd agreed Thursday that the two countries will work toward restarting talks on a bilateral free trade agreement
Gillard voices importance of FTA with Japan
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard stressed Thursday in Tokyo the importance of concluding a free trade agreement between the country and Japan, while vowing to remain a reliable supplier of natural resources to the quake-hit nation.
Australian trade deal real test of gov’t resolve on ’Heisei opening of Japan’
"Essentially, a deal with Australia is a prerequisite for participation in the TPP, making this a do-or-die moment for the Japanese administration," says the Mainchi Daily News
Japan and Australia resume trade talks for EPA
Japan and Australia resumed talks on Monday on their proposed Economic Partnership Agreement, or preferred trade arrangement, after they fell apart ten months ago.
Japan, Australia to restart free trade talks
Japan and Australia on Tuesday agreed to make a "fresh start" on stalled negotiations for a free trade deal after the Japanese government embraced a less protectionist trade policy this month.
Australian farm leaders reassure Japanese about effects of free trade deal
Masahiko Yamada, Japan’s new agriculture minister, has blogged about how the Australian free trade agreement would destroy Japanese agriculture. Australian farm industry leaders are in Tokyo trying to change his mind.
Japan hardliner hits FTA hopes
Japan’s new Prime Minister has installed an eccentric arch protectionist and former beef and pork farmer in the agriculture and fisheries portfolio, dealing a blow to Australia’s hopes of finalising a free trade agreement.
Greens on FTA with Japan
Australia should not agree to a free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan unless the Asian nation stops whaling in the Southern Ocean, the Australian Greens say.