Australia and Japan have agreed to begin a feasibility study on a free-trade agreement between the two countries. However, an agreement will be years away.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard raised the trade issue during his meetings with Japanese officials in Tokyo. After discussing the matter with Japan's trade minister, Mr. Howard then met with Prime Minister &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2003/01/15/42085.html ' target=_blank>Junichiro Koizumi.
Mr. Koizumi agreed to a compromise: the two nations would not start free-trade talks, but rather conduct a feasibility study on the matter. The Japanese prime minister says he expects the study would take two years and after that Tokyo and Canberra would decide whether to pursue formal negotiations, tells VOA News.