Australia’s trade minister on Monday expressed his readiness to strike a free trade deal with Japan in April and have it signed in July, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to visit Canberra, according to a Japanese ruling party lawmaker.
Koya Nishikawa and Australian Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb, who are both currently in Singapore for a ministerial meeting related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks, met and discussed trade-related issues.
The momentum for striking a Japan-Australia free trade deal has been picking up toward April, when Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is expected to visit Tokyo.
Nishikawa, a House of Representatives member who heads the Liberal Democratic Party’s TPP committee, also told reporters after the meeting that Robb showed readiness to reduce auto tariffs, while calling on Japan to cut duties on farm products.
Nishikawa declined to comment on details.
According to negotiation sources, Australia is asking Japan to cut tariffs on beef, which is currently subject to 38.5 percent tariff. Japan wants Australia to scrap 5 percent tariff on Japanese automobiles.