Tuesday, July 22, 2014

[BREAKING: Mongolia & Japan to announce free trade agreement today]

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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Japan, Mongolia to announce free trade deal Tuesday: president

July 22 (Kyodo) Japan and Mongolia will announce a free trade agreement between the two countries when their leaders meet later on Tuesday, Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj said.

"We are in the stage of concluding" the trade liberalization deal, Elbegdorj said in a speech at a business forum in Tokyo.

Elbegdorj and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe "will announce (the countries) reached a broad agreement," the president said, expressing his hope that the accord will help accelerate trade and investment between the two Asian economies.

In their negotiations, which began in 2012, Japan has called on Mongolia to eliminate a 5 percent tariff on Japanese car imports, while Ulan Bator has asked Tokyo to remove or significantly reduce its 38.5 percent tariff on Mongolian beef.

The size of bilateral trade is relatively small. In 2013, Japan's exports to Mongolia were valued at 29.3 billion yen (about $288 million) and Mongolia's exports to Japan at 1.9 billion yen.

But Abe apparently aims to leverage the closer economic ties to beef up their political relations, as Japan has relied on Mongolian assistance in negotiations with North Korea.

Mongolia has diplomatic ties with North Korea, whose abductions of Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s have prevented Tokyo and Pyongyang from normalizing bilateral relations.

At Tuesday's summit, Abe is also expected to ask Elbegdorj for further cooperation on the abduction issue, with Tokyo and Pyongyang having recently resumed intergovernmental talks on the matter.

Japan's main export items to Mongolia include used passenger vehicles, which account for some 45 percent of the total exports. Tokyo has also called on Ulan Bator to ease restriction on foreign investment to facilitate Japanese firms' businesses in such sectors as energy and infrastructure, according to Japanese government officials.

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