Talks with Canada on FTA progress

Kyodo

Japan and Canada have concluded their second round of talks on a free-trade agreement, the Foreign Ministry announced Saturday.

The five-day talks that wrapped up Friday in Ottawa are believed to have focused on such issues as intellectual property and energy resources, as well as farm products for which Canada is seeking to expand exports to Japan.

The two sides are also thought to have discussed Canada’s current tariffs on automobile imports, a focal point of the country’s recent reticence to approve Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade liberalization discussions.

Ottawa is trying to delay the abolition of its car import tariffs as long as possible in order to protect its auto industry. Though Canada ultimately agreed to Japan’s participation in the negotiations, it was the last of the 11 TPP member nations to give its consent.

According to government officials in Tokyo, Canada’s auto import levies will continue to be discussed in the TPP talks and during the bilateral FTA negotiations.

The United States decided to let Japan join the TPP discussions after Tokyo agreed to allow Washington to retain its tariffs on car imports for a longer period than that agreed under a U.S.-South Korea free-trade accord.

The first round of trade liberalization talks between Japan and Canada took place last November. The two sides agreed to hold talks on the issue four times a year and the next round is scheduled to take place in Tokyo, although the date has yet to be finalized.