Sultan arrives in Japan
By Azaraimy HH

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam last night arrived in Japan to begin a three-day visit to the country.

His Majesty will sign a landmark free trade agreement with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today aimed at slashing tariffs and ensuring a stable supply of natural gas to Japan.

Present at the Brunei International Airport to bid farewell to His Majesty yesterday were HRH Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, HRH Prince Hj Surfi Bolkiah and HRH Prince Abdul Malik.

His Majesty will be hosted to a luncheon by Their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan on June 19.

His Majesty is accompanied by HRH Prince Abdul Azim.

On June 15, the Government of Japan decided at its Cabinet meeting to sign the "Agreement between Japan and Brunei Darussalam for an Economic Partnership", called JBEPA.

Based on the Cabinet decision, Prime Minister Abe and His Majesty will sign the JBEPA and its implementing agreement, as well as the Joint Statement, at a Japan-Brunei Summit Meeting which will be held in Tokyo today.

It is expected that the JBEPA will promote the liberalisation and facilitation of trade and investment between the two countries and invigorate the economies of both countries through the establishment of a reciprocal economic partnership in various fields.

The accord would call on Brunei to abolish a 20-per cent tariff imposed on automobiles and auto parts from Japan within three years of the implementation of the agreement. Tariffs on electronics and machinery products, currently set at in a range of 5-20 per cent, will be eliminated within five years.

In return, Japan will eliminate tariffs on tropical fruits such as mangoes and durians immediately after the accord is put into effect. It will also gradually abolish tariffs on imports of other agriculture and forestry products. - Borneo Bulletin (18th June 2007)