Japan is gearing up to conclude more free trade or economic partnership agreements with foreign governments. So far, Japan has been less enthusiastic about FTAs and EPAs than Western countries but is changing its tack due to difficulties expected in the new round of multilateral trade talks under the World Trade Organization.

Next month, Japan will start talks on an EPA with Australia, the first such negotiations with a major economic power and farm produce exporter. An EPA will be a comprehensive agreement that will include not only an FTA to abolish or lower tariffs but also deregulation to free movement of capital and people.

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