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EU-Japan FTA hopefully concluded in 2017

Last weekend, Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Fumio Kishida met in Bonn, Germany, to discuss the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) currently being negotiated between the EU and Japan.

At the meeting both parties reaffirmed their commitment to reach a comprehensive and ambitious trade agreement, and to conclude negotiations as early as possible.

"Negotiations are very advanced. While it was not possible to conclude by the end of 2016, as we had hoped, tremendous progress has been registered over the last few months. As often in a negotiation, the few remaining issues are the most difficult to be solved, but I am confident that the distance between our respective positions can be bridged soon", Commissioner Malmström said about the way forward. 

Both parties also confirmed their commitment to concluding a Strategic Partnership Agreement, to ensure that EU-Japan relationship is consolidated on a wider scale and made fit for current challenges. These talks are being held parallel to the FTA negotiations.

According to Euractiv, the EU and Japan wish to complete the FTA negotiations by the end of 2017. In a statement on Tuesday, the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, expressed confidence in seeing a trade agreement in place by the end of this year.

Our negotiations with Japan are now in a decisive and hopefully final stage,” Juncker said at a joint press conference together with Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe.

According to EU officials talking to Euractiv, the EU-Japan FTA share a likeness to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA, between the EU and Canada. In terms of details of the agreement, the EU wants Japan to remove tariffs on food exports, open up public procurement especially in the rail industry and reduce non-tariffs barriers for cars. In return the EU is willing to reduce the 10 percent tariff on Japanese cars and make it easier for Japanese executives to work in Europe.

Japan is the EU’s second biggest trading partner in Asia (after China). Imports from Japan is mainly comprised of machinery, electric machinery, motor vehicles and optical and medical instruments, to mention a few. Conversely, the EU exports motor vehicles, machinery, pharmaceuticals, optical and medical instruments, and electrical machinery to Japan. Both Economies are also large in scale. Together the EU and Japan account for more than a third of the world’s GDP. Japan is also large investor in the European economy, with roughly € 178.5 billion in foreign direct investments.

The last round of negotiations between the parties were held in Brussels in September 2016. 

Tags: free trade, FTA, Japan

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