Japan sets up division targeting Korea FTA

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Japan sets up division targeting Korea FTA

Japan appears to be speeding up steps to resume talks with Korea on an “economic partnership agreement,” the term Japan uses to describe a free trade agreement. Five days after reports surfaced that Japanese officials were working to resume negotiations with Korea on the bilateral trade pact, a Japanese news agency has reported that Japan will set up a division solely dedicated to trade matters with Korea within Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

According to Jiji Press on Saturday, the division consisting of four to five members will launch on April 1. The division will deal with issues concerning the two country’s envisioned economic partnership agreement, among other matters. The EPA talks between Korea and Japan began in December 2003, but came to a halt in November 2004 amid growing concerns that the deal would increase Korea’s trade deficit with Japan.

The division will also examine major Korean industries and companies that show competitiveness in the world market such as in the electronics industry. Up to this point, a civic research institute in Japan has been in charge of looking into trade and industrial policies with Korea.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is reported to be keenly interested in the resumption of the talks on the bilateral trade pact with Korea as well as other countries in Asia.

By Kim Hyung-eun [hkim@joongang.co.kr]
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