TOKYO, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Japan and Australia on Monday reached agreements on a bilateral free trade talks and a joint research on submarine technology during a meeting between Shinzo Abe and Tony Abbott, prime ministers of the two countries.
Australia, after the free trade accord, becomes the first major farm exporter to conclude a free trade agreement with Japan, which is very cautious to open its agricultural market.
Abbott announced the agreement at the outset of his summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who said the FTA deal bears " historic significance" for closer Japan-Australian relationships.
Japan has decided to lower its tariffs on beef exported by Australia by up to half, while Australia has basically agree to drop its 5-percent tariff on Japanese automobiles, according to Japan's Kyodo News.
Under the trade accord, Japan will lower its tariffs on frozen beef to 19.5 percent in 18 years after the treaty take effects and duties on chilled beef will be cut to 23.5 percent in 15 years.
The bilateral FTA talks were stalled due to divergence on Japan 's tariffs on beef, which currently stood at 38.5 percent.
The two sides aim to reach an FTA accord this summer and to make it enter into force by the end of 2015. The deal could help countries involving in Trans-Pacific Partnership to reach free trade deal, local reports said.
Japan is Australia's second-biggest trading partner and mainly exports automobiles and other industrial products to Australia, which exports to Japan energy resources and agricultural products.
In 2011, 63.7 percent of the beef imported into Japan was from Australia in value terms, followed by 25.9 percent from the United States, Japanese government data showed.
Chairman of the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, Hiromasa Yonekura said Monday that the agreement "is a major decision politically and I feel it will push forward the TPP negotiations."
Yasuchika Hasegawa, chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, said in a statement that "progress has been made in the agricultural field beyond the conventional framework," adding that business circles would like to further boost cooperation to help strengthen the competitiveness of the farming industry.
However, the Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives, Japan 's powerful agricultural lobby called in a statement on the government to take "all possible measures" in case Japan's domestic livestock industry is affected by the bilateral free trade pact, Kyodo News reported.
Furthermore, during the Abe-Abbott summit, the two leaders also agreed to jointly research submarine technology in a move to enhance bilateral security cooperation, after Japan adopted its new arms export rules for the first time in nearly 50 years.
The first step of bilateral research start at marine hydrodynamics used for submarines, according to local reports, adding a two-plus-two meeting involving defense and foreign ministers of the two countries will be held here in June to work on details.
Abbott, before the summit, attended a special meeting of Japan' s National Security Council, the first foreign leader to do so.
Japan, Australia reach FTA accord
TOKYO, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Japan and Australia on Monday agreed on a bilateral free trade deal, said visiting Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Australia, after the deal, becomes the first major farm exporter to conclude a free trade agreement with Japan, which is very cautious to open its agricultural market. Full story
China hopes for Australia FTA progress
BEIJING, March 26 (Xinhua) -- China hopes to make progress on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Australia at an early date, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Wednesday, ahead of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's visit to China in April.
"China welcomes Abbott to visit China. We hope the trip will promote political mutual trust, economic and cultural cooperation, as well as coordination on international and regional affairs," Hong said.Full story