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Australia and Japan reaffirm commitment to strong trade and economic relationship.

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25 January, 2008

Australia and Japan reaffirm commitment to strong trade and economic relationship Australian Minister for Trade, Simon Crean, visited Japan from 20 to 24 January to reaffirm the new Australian Government's commitment to strengthening Australia's relationship with Japan.

During his visit, Minister Crean conveyed three key messages to the Japanese Government.

- The Australian government has a strong and enduring commitment to the Australia-Japan relationship reflecting the importance of the political, strategic, trade and economic links our two countries have developed over 50 years.

- The Australian Government is committed to a recalibration of Australia's trade policy so that the WTO Doha Round of trade negotiations once again becomes our number one trade priority. This will be supported by a more active approach to APEC and the ASEAN plus 6. The Australian Government appreciates Japan's support for Australia's active engagement in these forums. The Australian Government is also encouraged by progress being made in the FTA negotiations with Japan. A comprehensive FTA will complement what is achieved in the Doha Round and APEC. The benefits of trade liberalisation at the border will only be maximised if complemented by economic reform behind the border - the twin pillars approach.

- The substance and closeness of Australia's relationship with Japan gives our two countries the opportunity to forge even stronger partnerships in multilateral and regional fora in the pursuit of our mutual interests. This includes working together in responding to the global challenge of climate change; securing a comprehensive and successful outcome to the WTO Doha Round; helping to shape the emerging regional architecture; and in ensuring energy security in the Asia Pacific region.

Mr Crean conveyed these messages in his meetings with Mr Akira Amari, Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry, Mr Masahiko Koumura, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Masatoshi Wakabayashi, Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and other senior figures from the Liberal Democratic Party and the opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

He met senior Japanese business representatives, including the Chairman of the Japan

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Business Federation (Keidanren), Mr Fujio Mitarai (Chairman of Canon), and the Chairman of the Japan- Australia Business Cooperation Committee, Mr Takashi Imai (Honorary Chairman of Nippon Steel). He also addressed and met with representatives of the Australian business community in Japan.

While in Japan, Mr Crean travelled to Nagoya and Toyota City, where he held discussions with senior Toyota executives and inspected a Toyota vehicle production plant.

Mr Crean also took the opportunity to reaffirm the Australian Government's opposition to commercial and lethal scientific whaling. It is encouraging that both countries worked together cooperatively in resolving the incident involving two environmental protestors. Importantly, our two countries were continuing to engage on this issue and it had not impacted on the broader bilateral relationship.

Media Inquiries: Mr Crean's office 02 6277 7420 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555

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