Posted February. 16, 2004 22:37,
Japan will step up its efforts in concluding Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with Asian countries by increasing staff and creating task force teams for each Asian counterpart.
Japans Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry will increase the number of officials dealing with FTAs from the current five to 80 to prepare for FTA negotiations with Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines, reported Yomiuri Shinbun on Monday. Furthermore, four senior officials will take full charge of gathering information on negotiations with Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines respectively.
The Japanese government created a liaison conference of relevant ministries to strengthen its support on FTAs last year while the ruling Liberal Democratic Party established a special committee on FTAs.
Japan is hastening to conclude FTAs due to Chinas lead in concluding FTA with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the recent participation of the U.S. and India in FTA negotiations with Asian countries. China started trade liberalization of agricultural products with the ASEAN this January while India began tariffs negotiations with the ASEAN.
There is a growing concern within the Japanese government of losing dominance of Southeast Asian market to China.
Japans FTA with Mexico, the base of Latin American market, will soon be concluded after the opposition from the agricultural sector. Japan also plans to form FTAs with the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand before the end of this year.