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Australian PM underscores importance of economic ties with Japan

04-22-2011 15:23 BJT

TOKYO, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Friday said that ties between Japan and Australia go far beyond economics although suggested that a free trade agreement between the two countries would be mutually beneficial.

Speaking at Japan's National Press Club as part of the Australian leader's four-day trip beginning Wednesday, Gillard underscored the importance of the Australia-Japan alliance and said that the lifting of trade tariffs between the two countries would be of mutual benefit.

"Such a free trade agreement would contribute to Japan's economic growth and could help pave the way for a new wave of Japanese integration into the regional and global economies," Gillard said.

"A free trade agreement would make us more prosperous," she added.

Both countries have been discussing the notion of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) since 2007, but Japan has held off due to concerns over its sensitive farming industry, but Gillard said both parties had renewed their commitment to the idea.

Gillard, during her speech, also mentioned that the two countries will jointly explore cooperating more closely on renewable energy initiatives.

Gillard will visit the Japanese town of Minami-Sanriku in Miyagi prefecture on Saturday, where an Australian relief team operated last month, in the wake of the March 11 twin disasters that devastated east and northeast regions of Japan.

Her east Asian trip will end with visits to both Seoul and Beijing.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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