Malaysia and Japan reach agreement on a free-trade pact to take effect by year's end. The deal affords Japanese auto makers a leg up on competitors vying for a share of the region's largest and most-protected passenger-car market. Thailand, which primarily builds and sells pickups, is the region's biggest overall vehicle market. (See related story: Malaysian Sales Up 20.4% in February) Proton cars are protected with tax breaks. A free-trade agreement with Japan is significant ...

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