MEXICO CITY (Kyodo) Japan and Mexico will sign a bilateral free-trade agreement here in August, an official at the Mexican Ministry of the Economy said Thursday.

With Mexican President Vicente Fox planning to sign the pact, the Mexican government has asked Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to visit Mexico for the event, the official said.

Both countries will seek parliamentary approval for the agreement after the signing ceremony, with the FTA expected to take effect next April.

Japan and Mexico reached a basic accord on concluding an FTA in March. It is Japan’s second such agreement, following a deal signed with Singapore in 2002.

The pact is the first comprehensive accord for Japan that covers the heavily protected and politically sensitive agricultural sector.

Japan is now in negotiations over similar free-trade arrangements with South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

It may also launch talks with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations next year.

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