TOKYO, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- Japan and Canada launched the first round of negotiations on an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) here on Monday, aiming at decreasing the two countries' tariffs.
Jun Yokota, ambassador in charge of economic diplomacy at Japan ' s Foreign Ministry, said during the talks that trade relationships between Japan and Canada are complementary and hoped the EPA could further strengthen bilateral trade.
As of now, Japan serves the fifth largest trade partner of Canada. The two-way trade volume reached 23.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2011.
Agricultural issues would be a challenge for the talks. Canada wants a more open Japanese agricultural market. But Japan would take cautious moves so as to prevent its agricultural sector from damage brought by free trade.
Japan also hopes to import natural resources such as coal and natural gas from Canada and to export its cars and electronic equipment to the North American country in a stable way.
Japan and Canada decided to launch the negotiations in March when Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Japan.