ASEAN-Japan free trade pact to take effect in August

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Last updated on May 7th, 2021 at 05:27 am

TOKYO – Japan has updated its domestic procedures on a revised free trade pact with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with the changes to enter into force on Aug 1.

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mofa) said in a statement that the comprehensive economic partnership deal with the 10-nation Asean bloc will Japan’s first multilateral trade deal.

The deal focuses on eliminating tariffs on goods. The 106-page updated agreement, known as the First Protocol, will cover cross-border trade in services and investment between Japan and the Asean region.

The First Protocol will further boost the competitiveness of both sides by using the Asean-Japan comprehensive economic partnership agreement as the main vehicle. This pact will also strengthen the Japan-Asean cooperative relationship.

The revised free trade pact will apply to the other six Asean nations after they completed their domestic procedures.

Under the new deal, countries are required to treat foreign investors fairly and maintain transparency in regulating services trade.

Foreign companies can sue for discriminatory practices through a dispute settlement committee. The agreement also covers rules for foreign travelers to enter and stay in the other countries.

These revised agreement are particularly important for countries like Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar that currently has no bilateral free trade pacts with Japan. Japan’s goods exports to ASEAN totaled 12.6 trillion yen ($117 billion) in 2018, while imports from the regional bloc stood at 12.4 trillion yen.

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