8 Nov 2010

Japan moves toward joining free trade deal with NZ

10:15 am on 8 November 2010

Japanese businesses are keen to consider a free trade agreement with New Zealand, Finance Minister Bill English says.

Just days before Japan hosts the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation meeting, its government has agreed to join talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership - the US-backed grouping that includes New Zealand, Brunei, Chile, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam.

Japan is the only major East Asian country that New Zealand does not have a free trade deal completed or under negotiation.

Mr English has just returned from Japan where he met with other APEC finance ministers and says many countries in the region are concerned about the strength of their currency and its impact on exports.

Japan, in particular, is interested in pursuing a free trade agreement as one way to alleviate the pressure, he says.