Japan and Mongolia signed a bilateral economic partnership agreement (EPA) on February 11 that will expand trade and enhance strategic partnership between the two countries.
The agreement was signed by Prime Minister of Mongolia Ch.Saikhanbileg and his counterpart, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Tokyo. Over the next decade, it is expected to remove tariffs on about 96 percent of the combined total value of trade between the two countries, which was valued at 41.8 billion JPY in 2012.
It will be the 15th EPA for Japan once it takes effect, following approval by Japan’s legislative branch of government, and the first for Mongolia, according to the Foreign Ministry of Japan.
Statistics for 2012 from the Mongolian government show that 66.4 percent of Japan’s export value to Mongolia (39.9 billion JPY) was made up of automobiles and their components, followed by machinery at 18.5 percent and chemical engineering products at 5.1 percent. Meanwhile, 53 percent of Mongolia’s export value to Japan, which totaled 1.9 billion JPY in 2012, was made up of coal, followed by mineral products representing 25 percent, and clothing at 15.4 percent, according to the Japanese Finance Ministry. Mongolia’s imports from Japan, mostly vehicles, are roughly 16 times the size of its exports to Japan. The agreement signed Tuesday calls for Japan to scale back tariffs on its imports of Mongolian products such as cashmere.
At a joint news conference following their summit, Shinzo Abe welcomed the signing of the trade pact, which took about three years to negotiate.
“I’m sure (the EPA) will become an important foundation for the two goals that we are pursuing simultaneously, which are to further deepen the bilateral relationship and to promote Mongolia’s economic development,” Abe said.
Ch.Saikhanbileg said the pact will not only help expand trade and people exchanges between the two countries, it will contribute to his country’s efforts to become more integrated in the regional economy. “I strongly hope the EPA will foster further investment by Japan and help introduce knowhow from Japan,” he told reporters, and added that Mongolia will support Japan’s fight against terrorism and Tokyo’s plans to expand humanitarian assistance to the Middle East.
Abe pledged an additional 36.85 billion JPY in loans to help the ongoing construction of an international airport in Ulaanbaatar. He also said Japan will send experts to Mongolia to help draw up a medium- to long-term economic policy, according to Japan Times.
The Prime Minister’s first visit overseas since he took office in November concluded on Wednesday.