Canada and Japan explore bilateral trade deal

Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:21am EST
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada and Japan have agreed to decide soon whether to negotiate a bilateral economic partnership agreement, and Canada also aims to complete a free trade agreement with India by 2013, government officials said on Wednesday.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda agreed in a phone call late on Tuesday night to complete a joint study in the near future on the feasibility of an economic partnership deal, Harper spokesman Andrew MacDougall said.

The two countries launched the study in March.

Negotiations opened in Delhi on Tuesday on the third round of negotiations for a Canadian-Indian free trade agreement, and Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast said in a statement on Wednesday that 2013 was the target for reaching a deal.

With the Doha Round of world trade negotiations bogged down, Canada has increasingly pursued bilateral or regional deals. It has reached new trade agreements with nine countries in the last five years and is holding negotiations with close to 50 others, including talks with the European Union.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Peter Galloway)