Australia, Japan agree on free trade deal

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Associated Press

Posted on April 7, 2014 at 2:32 AM

Updated Monday, Apr 7 at 6:02 AM

TOKYO (AP) — Japan and Australia say they have agreed a free trade deal after overcoming differences on autos and agriculture.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, announced the pact at a news conference Monday.

The deal calls for Japan to gradually phase out its nearly 40 percent tariffs on Australian exports of beef. In turn, Australia is to end its tariffs on Japanese-made vehicles.

Abbott, who led his conservative coalition to power in September elections, is leading a mission of hundreds of people to East Asia, seeking to deepen economic ties.

In Abe, a fellow conservative, Abbott found an ally eager to strengthen diplomatic and defense ties.

Talks on the trade pact took seven years. Japan has balked at allowing foreign competition in farm products.

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