Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Tuesday started the seventh round of talks aimed at sealing a comprehensive free trade deal this year, officials said.
Officials from the foreign, finance and agriculture ministries of Japan and the 10 ASEAN nations are joining the two-day talks, which will discuss the specifics of an economic partnership agreement, Japan's foreign ministry said.
"The trade deal with the ASEAN is important in that it ensures liberalisation of internal trade of industrial parts exported from Japan to ASEAN countries," said an official at Japan's trade ministry.
"The talks are now at the final stage before a basic agreement," he said.
ASEAN countries are important production hubs for Japanese manufacturers such as automakers and electronics manufacturers.
Japan, the world's second largest economy, has been seeking a growing number of bilateral free-trade deals amid the deadlocked global liberalisation talks.
Earlier this month Tokyo signed a free trade pact with Thailand, following deals with Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.