Japan and Peru sign free-trade agreement

by Alex Martin

Staff Writer

Japan and Peru signed a free-trade agreement Tuesday evening that will eliminate tariffs on goods accounting for about 99 percent of trade between the two countries in 10 years.

Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto met with Peruvian Foreign Trade and Tourism Minister Eduardo Ferreyros Kuppers at the Foreign Ministry, where the two signed off on the economic partnership agreement, making Peru the 13th nation, and the most recent since India, to sign an agreement with Tokyo to facilitate trade.

Products covered by the new EPA include cars, televisions and lithium-ion batteries from Japan, and mineral resources, asparagus and squid from Peru. Among products Japan imports from Peru, controversial items such as rice and frozen fish will not be included in the pact.

In fiscal 2010, Japan exported ¥86.3 billion worth of goods to Peru, while importing ¥190.3 billion worth of items from Peru.

Because Seoul has signed several FTAs with other countries, anxiety has been growing that Japanese firms would lose their competitive edge with South Korean rivals if similar bilateral trade deals weren’t concluded.

South Korea and Peru signed an FTA in March, allowing tariffs to be lifted for TVs from the South and certain automobiles once it is ratified by both legislatures. Peru, in turn, has recently enacted free-trade agreements with the United States, China, Singapore and Canada.

Talks with Peru kicked off in May 2009, and after two years of negotiations the EPA was officially concluded between Prime Minister Naoto Kan and President Alan Garcia last November.

Tokyo is also weighing whether to join talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.