Japan, Chile Strike Free Trade Seal In Boost For Automakers

Japan announced Sept. 22 a framework free trade deal with Chile, in a fresh boost to Japanese automakers and Tokyo's efforts to secure stable supplies of natural resources. The basic economic partnership agreement (EPA), which if finalized would abolish tariffs on 92% of both countries' exports, is the sixth reached by Japan and was sealed after just seven months of negotiations.

This new EPA will encompass a wide range of trade and economic issues, including trade and investment liberalization," said Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. The pact, which is expected to take effect next year, would ensure "the stable supply of natural resources indispensable for Japan" and strengthen ties with Latin America as a whole, he said in a statement.

Japan is Chile's second-largest export market after the United States, taking shipments worth $4.5 billion in 2005 in items such as copper and salmon. Chile meanwhile imported $1 billion' worth of Japanese goods in the same year, about half of which were automobiles, with electronic and general machinery accounting for another 2%.

For industrial goods, Chile would immeditely drop tariffs on vehicles, general machinery and electronics products, while Japan would make gradual changes.

The free trade pact is a boon for already flourishing Japanese automakers, who are seeing brisk sales overseas, particularly in North America.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

TAGS: Trade
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