Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono (Photo: AP/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) –
The Japanese government passed a plan to sign a revised free trade agreement (FTA) with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at a Cabinet meeting on February 26, according to Kyodo News.

The Japanese news agency quoted Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono as saying that he hopes the revised FTA, which includes liberalisation of investment and service fields, will be a huge step towards enhancing the economic partnership between Japan and ASEAN.

The country is expected to sign the agreement on February 27 and seek approval from parliament this autumn, while ASEAN countries will start the signing procedure from March 2.

The original FTA between Japan and ASEAN went into effect in 2008 and was Japan’s first multilateral free trade deal, which focused on the trade of goods.

To further optimise benefits from this pact, the two sides started negotiations on investment and services in 2010 and concluded at the ministerial level in 2017.

ASEAN is the second biggest trade partner of Japan in Asia after China.

According to statistics of the Japanese government, the total import-export turnover of Japan with ASEAN exceeded 12 trillion JPY (about 108 billion USD) in 2018.

Besides the FTA with ASEAN, Japan has separate bilateral free trade deals with seven ASEAN countries namely Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.-VNA