Japan, Australia reaffirm bilateral free trade agreement

Hiroshima, April 12: Top Japanese and Australian diplomats Friday reaffirmed a bilateral free trade agreement which the two sides reached earlier this week during a summit between leaders of the two countries.

During a meeting held here between Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop, the two foreign chiefs agreed to accelerate efforts to sign and ratify the bilateral free trade agreement and to improve bilateral security cooperation, Xinhua quoted the Japanese foreign ministry as saying.

On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott reached a free trade accord, in which Japan cuts its tariffs on Australian beef, while Australia abandoned its tariff on Japan’s auto.

The two sides eyed to sign the agreement this summer and make it enter into force by the end of 2015. Australia became the first major farm products exporter that reached such free trade agreement with Japan.

The two foreign ministers, meanwhile, agreed to close work over the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership and a broader free trade framework of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Kishida and Bishop also agreed to utilised the planned “two- plus-two” meeting involving the two sides’ foreign and defense chiefs to enhance bilateral cooperation, said the ministry.