Indonesia Agrees To Eliminate Tariffs On Steel From Japan

Agreement brings countries closer to an overall free-trade agreement.

TOKYO (AP) – Japan and Indonesia came closer to a landmark free trade agreement on Friday, with Indonesia's agreement to eliminate tariffs on high-end steel products from Japan, according to reports from the Kyoto News agency.

The two countries, which are trying for a pact that would encompass goods, services and investment rules, might sign an overarching trade agreement in late November, Kyoto said, citing an unidentified trade ministry official.

Japanese Trade Minister Akita Amara and Indonesian counterpart Mari Pinkest, during talks on Friday in Tokyo, agreed that Jakarta will drop tariffs on Japanese steel products not manufactured in Indonesia, such as those for automobiles and electronic products, Kyoto reported. The accord would also ensure a stable energy supply for Japan.

The two countries began free-trade talks in July 2005. Japan has said it relies on Indonesia for about one-third of its natural gas supply and believes a free trade pact with Indonesia would help to secure a lifeline to those reserves.