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It Looks Like Tony Abbott Will Sign A Japan-Australia Free Trade Deal This Year

Getty/ Kiyoshi Ota

The Australian reports this morning that the Abbott Government is set to sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Japan as soon as July this year.

Australia is Japan’s second largest source of goods and services after the United States according to Yasunori Nakayama, deputy director-general for international trade policy at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

He told The Australian that this would be a “very strategic agreement” and was being driven by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who began Free Trade talks the last time he was prime minister in 2007 and that he has a “very strong determination” to bring them to a conclusion.

After General Motors’ head of international operations recently said Australia was too small a market to construct cars and that the FTA with South Korea had played a role in its decision to abandon production in Australia, the Government is no doubt worried about Toyota’s position as the last remaining local manufacturer.

Toyota is more outward focused than General Motors or Holden, with a large share of production being exported but Mr Nakayama said Japan was aware of Canberra’s concerns. The Australian reports that “he said Japan sought ‘no less favourable treatment than you accord other countries’, indicating the Korean deal would be viewed as a template”.

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