Japan-P’pines FTA talks

Associated Press

Tokyo, April 18:

Japan and the Philippines ended a second round of free-trade talks on Friday, but negotiators didn’t reach a deal, an official said. During the three-day long meetings, negotiators focused on easing investment and labour restrictions. They will meet again in July, in Manila. Tokyo wants Manila to open its markets to investment from Japanese businesses, while Manila wants Tokyo to make it easier for nurses and other health care workers from the Philippines to obtain visas in Japan, Kawai said.

Tokyo’s free-trade ambitions gained new urgency after China announced in 2002 it would remove all trade barriers between it and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) within 10 years. Japanese premier Junichiro Koizumi has made a top priority of signing free trade agreements, launching talks with South Korea in December and discussions with Malaysia and the Philippines this year.