FTA with Japan faces obstacles, says minister

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FTA with Japan faces obstacles, says minister

Unlike efforts by Korea and China to implement a free trade agreement in two years, many obstacles remain for a similar deal with Japan, Trade Minister Bark Tae-ho said

“The FTA talks with Japan are in limbo, because not much understanding has been made between the two countries,” Bark said at a press conference yesterday.

Although the two countries started FTA talks in 2003, they were halted the following year due to wide gaps on numerous issues, the minister explained.

“There are three big obstacles: easing nontariff barriers, opening the agricultural sector and lowering tariffs in a fair way,” said an official at the trade ministry.

“Above all, Japan has very low tariffs compared to Korea, which means we would have to cut tariffs asymmetrically,” he said.

The Japanese government is averse to fully opening its agricultural market and significant nontariff barriers remain within Japan, the official explained.

A multilateral FTA among Korea, China and Japan is planned to be on the agenda at summit talks of the three Asian countries’ leaders slated for May 13-14 in Beijing.

Japanese Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko, who took office last September, is currently showing interest in a bilateral FTA with Korea and a multilateral one with Korea and China, according to the trade ministry.

By Song Su-hyun [ssh@joongang.co.kr]

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