Fri, Apr 17, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Ma hopes for free-trade deal with Japan

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said he hoped to sign a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Japan and raise the level of bilateral economic meetings to the ministerial level.

“We hope to sign an FTA or a similar economic partnership pact with Japan, and before that, we hope we can raise the level of officials of economic meetings between the two countries,” Ma said yesterday when meeting Japananese Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice director Hiroyuki Hawabe at the Presidential Office.

The highest officials that attend Taiwan-Japan economic meetings are at the department level. Relations between Taiwan and Japan will improve if officials at the ministerial level were to attend such meetings, the president said.

Trade between Taiwan and Japan hit US$64 billion last year, making Japan Taiwan’s second-largest trading partner.

Signing an FTA would further strengthen economic relations between the two countries, the president said.

Signing an FTA with Japan and other major trading partners, including the US and Singapore, is part of Ma’s greater economic plan. However, the plan is unlikely to be carried out because of opposition from China.

Ma said yesterday Taiwan’s relationship with China had greatly improved under his administration, adding that he expected Taiwan to engage in more cross-strait economic cooperation, which would attract more foreign businesses by opening up the market to China.

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