Chile and the government-affiliated Japan External Trade Organization called for forming a comprehensive free-trade agreement between the two countries as soon as possible in their joint studies released Thursday.

Chile and JETRO have been conducting the joint studies since May 2000.

In its report, JETRO called for making utmost efforts to form a comprehensive FTA between the two countries, covering areas from services to investment and competition policy.

Noboru Hatakeyama, chairman of JETRO, stressed that an FTA with Chile will create important business opportunities for Japanese companies when they operate in the Western Hemisphere.

“Chile already formed FTAs with Canada and Mexico. And Chile is also negotiating an FTA with the United States. So an FTA with Chile will present a window to the region covered by the North American Free Trade Agreement,” Hatakeyama said.

Since Chile is known for its open market, capital market reforms and other economic reforms, forming a trade agreement would enable Japan to learn from its experience in implementing structural reforms, Hatakeyama said.

A report compiled by a Chilean study group says efforts should be made to conclude a broad bilateral FTA in order to enhance the two countries’ economic relations.

Chile’s mining industry, food processing business and information technology sector stand to benefit from an FTA with Japan, the report says.

Concerning politically sensitive farm products in Japan, JETRO’s report says that a majority of study group members agreed that certain products should be treated as exceptional goods within the framework of the World Trade Organization.

But some members felt strongly that agricultural, forest and marine products should be exempted from the FTA due to the potentially serious impact on domestic producers.

Chile’s main produce exports to Japan are marine products, like salmon and trout, and fruits, such as grapes and apples. Food accounted for 34.3 percent of Japan’s imports from Chile in 2000, including those items, according to JETRO.

The JETRO report is the third of its kind, following reports on Mexico and South Korea.

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