Japanese trade negotiators are set to visit Canada from April 22 to 26 to pursue the next round of talks regarding a free trade agreement between both countries. As Japan is faced with a number of negotiations for economic agreements on multiple fronts, Canada is eager to move forward with its own deal with the Asian economic giant.
The talks for a free trade agreement between the two countries started in November, as Canada expected a difficult set of negotiations in trying to get the right balance in gaining access Japan’s market even as it is full of trade restrictions. Japan has traditionally set very high tariffs on some products that it feels it needs to protect from foreign competition, such as rice and other farm goods. Negotiations for trade agreements, even with other countries, have usually experienced slow progress when it comes to these items, but Canada is confident that the North American country’s vast natural gas reserves will hold the key to concessions coming from Japan. After the Fukushima disaster, Japan has been trying to look for alternative energy sources, and Canada’s natural gas market has recently seen major investments from Japanese power groups. The discovery of large deposits of a relatively new product in shale gas has also been noticed by Japanese investors. And so Canada is hoping that a free trade agreement would soon be in order – probably the first of its kind by Japan with a Group of Eight (G8) member. As a mark of progress, both parties are expected to sign shortly an investor protection agreement that would give more legal protection for investors to each other’s markets, thus creating a more stable investment platform for businesses from both countries.
Japan is currently in multiple negotiations with regards to trade. Just recently, Japan, China and South Korea started talks looking towards a tripartite free-trade agreement. Japan is also planning to talk with the 27-country European Union regarding an economic partnership agreement. At the end of the list is Japan’s plan to enter into a multilateral trade environment with the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership recently announced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Canada is hoping that Japan will keep its negotiations with it at the top-tier, even as it deals with much larger markets in other negotiations.
[via The Globe and Mail]
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