Officials in Tokyo admit, according to the Financial Times, that the proposed deals with Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines will fall short of WTO’s ‘free trade’ standards for the authorization of discriminatory agreements. Japan is seeking to redress the impression of China’s dominance of trade relations in the region without, it seems, offering to actually reduce the barriers it maintains to imports from countries such as Thailand. bq. The Japanese trade official said talks with Thailand focused on several contentious issues, including access to Japanese markets for Thai sugar, chicken and starch. Bangkok also wanted Japanese health insurance to cover treatment for Japanese patients in Thailand, and the chance to send some workers to Japan. Thai officials said they had made a big concession by withdrawing their request to liberalise Japan’s rice market, but the gesture had not been reciprocated. (“Financial TImes”:http://news.ft.com/cms/s/7549972e-68b5-11d9-9183-00000e2511c8.html)
Peter Gallagher is a leading Australian consultant on trade and public policy.[bio].
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