The West

Australia, Japan strike free trade deal
Prime Minister Tony Abbott reviews an honor guard during a welcome ceremony with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Picture: AP

Consumers will get access to cheaper Japanese goods, including cars, cameras, televisions and household goods under a free trade agreement struck today worth tens of billions of dollars to the Australian economy.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb confirmed Australia had reached agreement for an FTA with Japan, seven years after negotiations started under Prime Minister John Howard.

The FTA will see Australian businesses get much greater access to the lucrative Japanese market, already Australia's second-biggest export destination.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe were finalising the deal in Tokyo later today.

Trade officials said the break-through agreement marks the most significant deal done by any country with Japan, giving preferential access for Australian produce, minerals and services.

Mr Robb said the last six months of negotiations had been especially tough.

Japan has been resolute for decades in its resistance to lowering tariffs on rice, grain, sugar, dairy and beef.

And though there will be no movement on rice, Australia has achieved some significant gains on the other commodities.

"It is an agreement which is a historic one to the extent of liberalisation that Japan has conceded to," Mr Robb said in Tokyo.

"It will benefit greatly Australian businesses and Australian jobs, and Australian consumers with cuts in car prices of up to $1500 for the average car.

"I don't want to pre-empt the formal conclusion of this negotiation by our two prime ministers in a short while but just want to say what an honour it is to be involved in this historic agreement."

He said the FTA built on the 1957 Japan-Australia trade treaty which former PM Robert Menzies negotiated with Mr Abe's grandfather, former Japanese PM Nobusuke Nishi

The West Australian

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