Japan has requested that Malaysia remove tariffs on some of Japan’s agricultural exports during their negotiations on a bilateral free-trade agreement in Tokyo, sources said Wednesday.

It was the first time Japan had asked for removal of tariffs on farm products in FTA talks with any country.

Japan wants Malaysia to abolish tariffs on farm products such as apples, Japanese pears, mandarin oranges, green tea and Chinese yams, the sources said.

Tokyo made the request at the fourth Japan-Malaysia working-level FTA talks that ended Wednesday, the sources said. The two countries exchanged lists of products each wants covered under an envisaged FTA accord, they said.

Japan limited the scope of items it wants covered by Malaysia to fruits and other products that Malaysia does not export to Japan, the sources said. Malaysia imposes 5 percent tariffs on fruit imports.

Tokyo’s request apparently reflects its shift of farm trade policy from protecting domestic farmers to pushing for exports.

Japan’s exports to Malaysia totaled about 1.38 trillion yen in 2002. Agricultural, forestry and fisheries products accounted for only 0.2 percent of the total.

Japan plans to make similar requests in ongoing FTA talks with Thailand, the Philippines and South Korea, the sources said.

During the three-day talks, the two sides also dealt with a range of trade-related issues, including dispute settlements, trade in goods, trade in services and investment, cooperation and other trade-related issues, a Foreign Ministry official said.

Japan wants Malaysia to abolish tariffs on automobiles and electric products, the official said, but declined to disclose details.

“Since both sides for the first time unveiled lists of items they are interested in, this is the beginning of substantive negotiations on tariffs on goods,” he said.

The two countries are arranging their fifth round of talks in the week starting Sept. 27 in Malaysia, he said.

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