Japan, Chile Enter Free Trade Pact

Tokyo to phase out copper tariff while Santiago will immediately remove duties on cars, machinery

Japan and Chile on Sept. 4 signed a free trade agreement, Tokyo's first with a South American nation, meant to provide the Asian economic power with a steady supply of minerals. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ceremonially launched the deal with visiting Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. The two leaders also pledged cooperation in the fight against global warming.

Japan has been steadily seeking free-trade deals amid the collapse of global trade talks. Japan has reached framework deals with eight nations. Its agreement with Chile is the fourth to go into effect. Japan quickly sealed the deal with Chile, which had already signed a free trade agreement with China in 2005.

According to the Chilean Central Bank's 2006 trade figures, exports to Japan -- chiefly copper -- reached $6 billion, while imports stood at $1.06 billion. Under the deal, Santiago will immediately lift its 6% tariff on Japanese cars and also remove duties on machinery, electronic equipment and products such as Japanese green tea and sake rice liquor.

Tokyo in turn will gradually eliminate its 3% tariff on Chilean copper, its 3.5% tariff on Chilean salmon and its 17.6% tax on Chilean wine.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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