Japan and Colombia held their first round of negotiations in Tokyo on Monday for a bilateral free trade agreement aimed at eliminating import tariffs on most products traded between the two countries.
The Japanese delegation to the first round was led by Jun Yokota, ambassador in charge of economic diplomacy, while the Colombian team was headed by Javier Humberto Gamboa Benavides, the Commerce, Industry and Tourism Ministry’s chief negotiator.
During their one-day talks, the Japanese and Colombian officials discussed how to proceed with future negotiations and other issues, the Japanese government said in a statement.
The two countries agreed to hold their second round of FTA negotiations in Colombia next year, although a specific date has yet to be set through diplomatic channels, the Japanese government said.
Monday’s meeting came less than three months after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos agreed at a meeting in New York to launch bilateral FTA negotiations.
According to Japanese government figures, Japan exported $1.438 billion worth of products to Colombia and imported $528 million worth of goods from the Latin American country in 2011. Japan’s main export items are autos and auto parts, while its main import items are coffee and cut flowers.
Japan has so far seen its FTAs with 12 countries and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a whole going into effect.
Among the countries and regional organizations with which Colombia has so far signed FTAs are the United States, the European Union (EU), Canada and Mexico, as well as other Latin American countries and organizations, including Mercosur. The FTA between Colombia and the U.S. took effect in May this year.