Japan, Thailand sign FTA

April 3, 2007 at 10:25 PM
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TOKYO, April 3 (UPI) -- After prolonged negotiations, Japan and Thailand Tuesday signed a free trade agreement designed to eliminate tariffs on much of their bilateral trade.

The Japan Times reported the agreement, signed in Tokyo, will abolish tariffs on more than 90 percent of trade over 10 years.

Japan's exports to Thailand totaled $22.6 billion in 2006, while Thailand's exports totaled $16.6 billion in the same period.

Thailand is Japan's sixth-largest export market by value, mostly for steel and auto parts.

The FTA is expected to eliminate or slash tariffs on Thai fruit, chicken, and seafood. Japan succeeded in excluding its highly protected rice market from the agreement, the report said.

The agreement, already approved by Thailand's legislature, must also be approved by Japan's parliament.

The FTA was signed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Thailand's Gen. Surayud Chulanont.

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