Japan FTA a boon to coal and beef exports

AUSTRALIA'S beef and coal exporters were among the biggest winners of a trade deal sealed with Japan in Canberra on Tuesday.

The deal, signed by Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and Shinzo Abe, will see a raft of Japan's high tariffs removed over the next decade.

It followed the first official address by a Japanese prime minister to the Australian Parliament, where both Mr Abe and Mr Abbott welcomed the dawn of a new "special relationship".

The trade deal will cut tariffs on frozen and fresh beef immediately from between 5% and 8%. The current 38.5% level will fall to between 19.5% and 23% over 18 years.

It will also cut Japan's import tariffs and introduce extra quotas on other Australian agricultural commodities including macadamias, dairy, wine and seafood.

In the resource industry, the deal will cut or remove tariffs for coking coal, unalloyed nickel, petroleum oils, aluminium hydroxide and titanium dioxide.

Mr Abbott said the deal marked both the continuation of the 60-year relationship, and a new era for trade relations between the two countries.

While the government and some industries have quantified some of the potential benefits for Australia, there has been no complete economic analysis done of the deal's effects on trade.

During his address to parliament, Mr Abe also spoke of the "horrors" of the Second World War, pledging that they would never again be repeated.

Both Prime Ministers' speeches had prominent overtones of peace and prosperity, with the "common" ground cited as being free market values and the rule of law.

And despite potential complications from the deal arising with Australia's relations with China and the United States, Mr Abbott said it was only through working together that all countries could benefit.

The deal could also open the door to more Japanese investment in Australia's agriculture land and businesses, with the threshold for foreign investment scrutiny lifted from 4238 million to more than $1 billion per investment.


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