Japan-Canada FTA talks get under way

Kyodo

Japan and Canada opened their first round of talks Monday on a bilateral free trade agreement that would eliminate tariff barriers on both sides.

At the Tokyo session, expected to run through Friday, Japan is looking for a deal that will allow it to secure a stable supply of natural resources, including coal and natural gas.

To start off the talks, Jun Yokota, ambassador in charge of economic diplomacy at the Foreign Ministry, said he hopes a Japan-Canada FTA will “serve as the basis for further strengthening” bilateral ties, and described their economic relations as “complementary.”

Japan also wants to increase auto exports to Canada, but plans to move cautiously on the issue because liberalizing trade could cause a surge of Canadian wheat, beef and pork imports to damage its farm sector.

The two countries decided to enter free trade talks in March, when Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met with his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper.

Canada is one of a group of countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade initiative.