SYDNEY – Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson welcomed Japan’s upcoming entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks.
“I look forward to Japan joining the negotiations and working with Australia,” Emerson said in a statement Sunday, adding that he hopes countries involved will conclude “a comprehensive and ambitious regional free-trade agreement.”
Emerson issued the statement in Surabaya, Indonesia, where he attended a meeting of trade ministers from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum member nations over the weekend.
On the margins of the APEC meeting, ministers from the 11 countries currently involved in the TPP negotiations, including Australia and the United States, met Saturday and formally approved Japan’s entry into the multilateral talks. Japan is expected to make its debut in the TPP negotiations at a meeting now being arranged for July.
In the statement, Emerson also said that he has met with Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi for talks on progress in negotiations on concluding an economic partnership agreement featuring free trade between Australia and Japan. They agreed to maintain the momentum of the bilateral negotiations, according to the statement.
In the negotiations, the two countries are believed to be discussing plans to allow Japan to set low-tariff import quotas for some Australian products instead of eliminating the tariffs and, in exchange, to allow Australia to maintain its 5 percent tariff on Japanese automobile imports.
Lifting of duties sought
Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Sunday requested Gita Wirjawan, his Indonesian counterpart, lift antidumping duties on steel product imports from Japan.
Last month, Indonesia decided to impose heavier antidumping duties on steel products from Japan than those slapped on similar products from four other Asian economies.
Motegi also told his counterpart that Japan is concerned about import tariffs on automobiles and is hoping for an improvement in the situation. Gita was “thinking very positively about (Japan’s) concerns and proposals” at the meeting, Motegi said.
Separately, Motegi met with South Korean Trade Minister Yoon Sang Jick and reaffirmed their countries’ cooperation in concluding a high-level trilateral free-trade agreement also involving China and realizing an extended FTA in Asia.