VIENTIANE, Laos (AP) Japan and the Philippines have agreed on key parts of a free-trade pact but need a few more months to put finishing touches on the landmark accord between the World War II foes, officials said Tuesday.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo met on the sidelines of the annual summit of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the Laotian capital before announcing the agreement late Monday.
Philippines-Japan relations have reached a high, historical point today, Arroyo said. This is a formidable step forward toward liberal, fair trade and for the fight against poverty in our country, she added.
Once signed, it will be the first bilateral free trade pact by the Philippines and the third for Japan, which also has forged similar agreements with Singapore and Mexico.
Despite agreement on major provisions of the accord, both nations need about six months to smooth out minor kinks, including the language, and finalize the agreement for signing, Philippine Trade Undersecretary Tomas Aquino told reporters. …