Subject: [cwj 30] Consideration of Canada-Japan Trade Pact Considered a Precursor to Japan-U.S. Deal
From: "Olivier Hoedeman" <>
Date: Mon, 5 Jun 2000 10:38:30 +0200
Seq: 30

International Trade Reporter

Volume 17 Number 21 Thursday, May 25, 2000 Page 834 ISSN 
1523-2816 Americas/NAFTA

International Agreements 

Consideration of Canada-Japan Trade Pact Considered a Precursor 
to Japan-U.S. Deal

OTTAWA--Business groups in Canada and Japan have agreed that 
the two countries should consider negotiation of a bilateral free-
trade agreement as a precursor to Japan's negotiation of free trade 
with the United States, Tom d'Aquino, president of the Business 
Council on National Issues, said May 19.

Reaching a free trade deal with Canada would provide Japan with 
experience in the negotiation of such agreements that would be 
invaluable in later seeking free trade with the United States, 
d'Aquino told BNA. "Doing a deal with Canada would be much 
easier than doing a deal with the United States, which would be the 
ultimate goal," he said.

The decision to promote a Canada-Japan free-trade agreement was 
reached May 15 in Tokyo with top officials of the Keidanren, 
Japan's leading business group, at the 23rd annual Japan-Canada 
Business Conference, d'Aquino said.

BCNI proposed at the meeting that the bilateral relationship be re-
examined, that each country's images of the other be updated, and 
that measures be considered to fast-track improvements to the 
bilateral trading relationship, including the consideration of whether 
there is a basis for negotiating a free trade agreement over the next 
five to seven years, he said.

Both sides agreed to initiate further studies of the potential for free-tr=
ade and to present additional findings at the next Japan-Canada Business C=
onference, scheduled to be held in Calgary May 13-15, 2001, he said.

The move represents a major breakthrough on the part of the Japanese busin=
ess community, which in the past has shown little interest in the concept =
of bilateral free-trade agreements, d'Aquino said. "What was significant 
is that they were prepared for the very first time to talk about a bilater=
al free trade agreement. That would never have happened one year ago, two =
years ago, five years ago," he said.

Seattle Watershed

The change is in large part due to Japan's recent economic problems, but a=
lso represents Japan's concerns about the "fiasco" at the Seattle minister=
ial meeting of the World Trade Organization and its impact on the future 
of multilateralism, d'Aquino said. Japan's traditional insistence on stick=
ing to a multilateral approach to trade liberalization is the main reason =
for its never having considered bilateral trade agreements, he said.

The convergence of those factors has led the Japanese business community t=
o realize that bilateral free trade agreements may offer significant benef=
its, and even Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry recent
ly advocated a dual-track approach to trade liberalization similar to Cana=
da's, based on both multilateral and bilateral negotiations, d'Aquino said=
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