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
Rio Tinto Australia managing director Charlie Lenegan told an Australia-Japan business conference in Sydney today the foundation for such a treaty had been laid over the past 50 years, since the signing of a Commerce Agreement between the pair in 1957.
When the idea of a free trade agreement with Japan was floated four years ago, there was not much enthusiasm in Tokyo.
A proposed free-trade deal between Australia and Japan is looking shaky, with agriculture again the most contentious issue.
The Federal Government has flagged the possibility of negotiations for a free trade agreement with Japan, beginning in December.
What Japan wants is the conclusion of an EPA with Australia that is not limited simply to trade liberalization, but is comprehensive in character, further enhancing bilateral economic relations, and eliminating disadvantages relative to other countries.
Japan and Australia will hold a three-day meeting in Tokyo to study the feasibility of a bilateral free trade agreement, Japanese officials said.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer ended a Tokyo visit yesterday confident that negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan, the most lucrative bilateral deal available to Australia, can start next year.
Visiting Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer expressed hope that Canberra could enter into official negotiations on a free trade agreement with Japan next year by concluding the ongoing feasibility study at an early date, Japanese officials said.
A free trade deal between Australia and Japan could be a multi-billion dollar bonanza for both countries, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has suggested.
A feasibility study examining a possible free trade deal between Australia and Japan will be finished by December, possibly allowing negotiations to begin in early 2007, the trade minister said Frida