Japan Times | Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012
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.
The outcome of the bilateral trade negotiations is expected to set the tone for separate consultations to be held on Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership initiative. According to sources close to the negotiations, Australia could demand that Japan agree to re-address during the TPP negotiations tariffs on sensitive items such as farm produce that would not be eliminated under a bilateral FTA.
But a Japanese official noted that several issues remain unresolved, suggesting Tokyo is unlikely to conclude free-trade pact with Canberra in the near future.