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Japan to sign FTA with India, Australia, China

Japan will begin talks on free trade agreement with India and Australia in 2007 and with China in 2009.

business Updated: Jan 03, 2006 13:22 IST

Japan plans to begin talks on a free trade agreement (FTA) with India and Australia in 2007 and with China in 2009 in a bid to play a leading role in bringing about a proposed East Asian economic grouping, a report said on Tuesday.

A government plan through 2010 envisages FTAs with resource-rich and food-exporting countries as part of efforts to both bolster national security and promote economic integration in East Asia, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper said without citing sources.

Japan supports the inclusion of Australia and India in the East Asian Community, which was proposed at the inaugural East Asian Summit in December in Kuala Lumpur.

That meeting, which came on the heels of the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, saw bickering between Japan and China over their wartime past, and disagreement over the inclusion of non-Asian nations like Australia and New Zealand.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao insisted that 13 countries -- the 10-nation ASEAN bloc plus China, Japan and South Korea -- would guide the future of Asian integration.

Australia, India and New Zealand were apparently included as a counterweight to Beijing's influence in the forum, where the United States was not represented.

First Published: Jan 03, 2006 13:22 IST