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Japan, Colombia Kick-Start FTA Negotiations

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

21 December 2012

Japan and Colombia have held a first round of negotiations following an agreement in September between outgoing Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda and Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, to start talks towards the signing of a free trade agreement.

During the nations' first meeting towards the pact, negotiators touched on the potential content of the agreement, and agreed a framework for future discussions.

Heading the negotiations on behalf of Japan is Jun Yokota, Ambassador in charge of Economic Diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who met with Colombia's Chief Negotiator at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Javier Humberto Gamboa Benavides.

For Colombia, the agreement would expand its expansive network of free trade pacts in the Americas, which serve to liberalize trading conditions for Colombian exporters through a combination of lower tariffs and reduced bureaucracy. Colombia already has free trade agreements with the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and the Mercosur states which include Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

The agreement would also give Japan another free trade foothold in Latin America; Japan has signed FTAs with Mexico and Peru, as well as a number of Asian countries.

Japan's exports to Colombia in 2011 mainly comprised manufactured goods, including automobiles, valued at USD1.44bn, while Colombia's exports to Japan, mainly of coffee and agricultural goods, were valued at USD528m.

To build a legal framework to encourage increased trade and investment between the nations in anticipation of the opening of free trade talks, the two nations signed an agreement of the promotion and protection of investments in September 2011.

TAGS: tax | export duty | tariffs | Colombia | agreements | import duty | trade | Japan

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