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Japan plans to propose talks on liberalizing trade in environment-related equipment and services within the 18-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, government officials said July 2.

Japan may also propose that APEC hold talks on the market-liberalization of precision machinery and tools, in which Japan has a competitive advantage in the international marketplace, the officials said, requesting anonymity. The officials said Japan’s proposals will be presented to New Zealand, which currently chairs APEC’s trade and investment committee, by the July 15 deadline, the date by which member economies must submit their proposals for market-liberalization talks in specific industrial sectors.

The officials said, however, that there are difficult technical problems that must be resolved before talks can begin on liberalizing the environment sector, citing, for example, the need to clarify the definition of environment-related equipment and services. Among other APEC members, Canada is also expected to propose market-liberalization talks for goods and services that fall into the environment category, the officials said.

The officials added that Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, will probably propose that the toy market be considered for APEC’s liberalization talks, while Australia is expected to put forward the energy sector. APEC will discuss all proposals for the talks at the next meeting of its senior officials, scheduled for the end of August in the Canadian province of Newfoundland, the officials said.

At a meeting in May in Montreal, APEC’s trade ministers agreed to explore the possibility of developing new sector-based liberalization accords, following the pattern set by last year’s information-technology agreement. APEC’s support for the agreement, ahead of its formalization in December at the World Trade Organization, was seen as crucial. Some 40 economies have so far signed the ITA, which calls for elimination of tariffs on such items as computers and semiconductors by 2000 for industrialized economies, and by 2005 for developing economies.

MRTA graffiti defaces Aoki’s home

Police have stepped up security around the private residence of Morihisa Aoki, former ambassador to Lima, after threatening graffiti in the name of Peruvian rebels was found written on Aoki’s fence.

A patrolman was the first to find the graffiti, written in Japanese with red spray paint, early July 1 in the Denenchofu area of Ota Ward, Tokyo. It said in part, “MRTA: President Fujimori’s visit to Japan shall be stopped,” according to police. Alberto Fujimori arrived July 2 on a six-day visit.

Each letter in the message measured between 60 cm and 90 cm in width. Members of Aoki’s family had erased the graffiti by late July 1.

The writing apparently refers to the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. Fourteen of the group’s members seized the ambassador’s official residence in Lima in December, taking Aoki and others hostage. All 14 MRTA rebels were killed during an April 22 raid ordered by Fujimori.

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