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Tuesday, 5 November, 2002, 14:04 GMT
Japan and India eye Asian trade deals
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, left, and host Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen
Japan and Cambodia shake on their agreement on trade
Japan has signed an agreement with 10 South East Asian nations to establish a free trade area (FTA) within 10 years, following in China's footsteps, while India has proposed a similar deal.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), meeting in Cambodia, agreed to create a $4.9 trillion (3.2 trillion) FTA.

The deal comes after China signed a similar agreement with Asean on Monday to create the world's biggest FTA trade area, covering 1.7 billion people and with trade valued at 1.2 trillion dollars.

China has established the framework for its with Asean while Japan is only just developing one.

ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Regional trade games

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is attending the Asean summit for the first time, has proposed a Regional Trade and Investment Area (RTIA) with 1.5 billion consumers and a combined economy of $1.7 trillion dollars.

India is keen to tap trade and investment opportunities with Asean as it competes with China.

"Clearly as far as dialogue with Asean is concerned, we are later than the countries of Northeast Asia," Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha told Reuters.

"Prime Minister [Atal Bihari Vajpayee] has made his suggestion to the Asean leadership that India would like to move to a free-trade agreement with Asean in a 10-year time frame."

China on Monday also proposed setting up a FTA with Japan and South Korea, a Japanese official said.

They have reportedly agreed to a private sector feasibility study, without setting a timetable.


World trade talks

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See also:

04 Nov 02 | South Asia
04 Nov 02 | Business
01 Nov 02 | Business
28 Oct 02 | Business
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