EU, Japan seek to get ball rolling on free trade agreement
Tokyo, Japan (4E) – The European Union and Japan are set to hold a summit within the month as a launchpad to talks that could lead to a major free trade deal, according to reports released Sunday.
Sources say that Japan and the 27-nation bloc could begin first-round talks in April. This may result to a huge economic agreement between the two, which together account for nearly a third of world’s gross domestic product.
Top European leaders including European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and EU President Herman Van Rompuy are scheduled to visit Tokyo in the final week of March to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, according to the Nikkei business daily.
Both European and Japanese leaders are expected to reach a final agreement that will pave the way for the long-awaited negotiations intended to liberalize trade and break down barriers on services and investment.
The decision by the EU to start talks with Japan began after a meeting of its trade ministers with their Japanese counterparts in November.
European manufacturers of car and car parts are worried that there may be a rise of Japanese car imports once tariffs are removed, citing a previous trade deal with South Korea that boosted South Korean car sales in Europe.
Japan and the EU also plan to start a separate discussion on a “political accord” that aims to strengthen cooperation on science and technology, the environment and security.