7 March 2012 Kyodo News
TOKYO, March 7 -- Japan and Canada are preparing to begin negotiations on a free trade agreement and may possibly reach an initial accord by the end of this month on holding the talks, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry released the same day a report on the two countries' joint study on a possible FTA, which said there is still room for Japan and Canada to strengthen their bilateral relationship.
Japan and Canada studied the possibility of forming an FTA during four meetings, starting in March 2011. The study process involved taking opinions from the public sector, including from the agricultural industry.
The report said the two countries shared the view that all tariffs on industrial products should be eliminated in principle.
It added that they also agreed on the importance of striking a balance between the promotion of trade and the development of agricultural industries, suggesting they could exempt tariff elimination on some politically sensitive farm products.
The sources said trade officials are considering Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper holding a meeting on the matter in late March as the Canadian leader plans to attend a global nuclear security summit to be held on March 26-27 in Seoul.