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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

The Australia-Japan FTA negotiations: What do they really mean?
Ono Kazuoki, veteran of Japanese and Asian farmer movements, comments on the projected Australia-Japan FTA.
Japan wants resources clause in FTA deal
Japan may try to have a specific clause to safeguard its imports of coal and iron ore inserted into any free trade deal with Australia.
Japan keeps rice out of free trade proposals
Japan’s trade supremo Akira Amari has ruled out opening up the country’s rice market in a free trade agreement with Australia, saying Japan’s aim is to secure a deal that covers "90 per cent" of trade between the two countries.
Japanese farmers protests Australia FTA
More than 1,000 Japanese farmers have held a protest rally in the centre of Tokyo over a proposed free trade agreement with Australia.
Japanese farmers up free trade protest
Japanese farmers have stepped up their campaign against a proposed free trade deal with Australia.
Japan, Australia to attend to agriculture in FTA talks
Japan and Australia agreed Thursday to pay close attention to Tokyo’s politically sensitive agricultural issues when they advance talks for a bilateral free-trade agreement, the next round of which is slated for late July.
Australia-Japan Free Trade Agreement - A bad deal should be stopped
A Joint Statement from Australian and Japanese people
Japan, Australia to speed up trade talks
Japan and Australia have agreed to a fast-paced timetable of negotiations on a free trade pact after two days of initial talks.
Agriculture sticking point in Japan, Australia free trade deal
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has come under increasing pressure from Japan’s farming sector not to sign a free trade deal involving agriculture with Australia.
Japan, Australia strike strategic security cooperation agreement
Japan and Australia agreed Tuesday to expand strategic cooperation in security and defense issues, and to expedite negotiations for a free trade agreement between the two countries.