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Japan | Brussels, 31 January 2014

EU-Japan Trade Talks Continue

EU and Japanese officials negotiating a Free Trade Agreement between the two economic powerhouses met this week (27-31 January) for the fourth round of negotiations. The two teams focussed on further discussing and explaining each side’s proposals for the text of the future agreement.

Discussions took place in working groups covering a wide range of areas: trade in goods (including market access, general rules, trade defence instruments i.e. anti-dumping, anti-subsidies and bilateral safeguards); technical barriers to trade and non-tariff measures; rules of origin; customs and trade facilitation; animal and plant health and hygiene (so-called sanitary and phytosanitary measures); trade in services; investment; public procurement; intellectual property; competition policy; trade and sustainable development; and dispute settlement. Another group covering 'other issues' discussed general and regulatory cooperation, corporate governance and the business environment, electronic commerce, and animal welfare.

The EU team was headed up by Mauro Petriccione, Director in the European Commission's Directorate General for Trade, the Japanese side being led by Yasumasa Nagamine, Deputy Minister in the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

An agreement between the EU and Japan is predicted to boost Europe’s economy by 0.6 to 0.8% of its GDP. It is expected that EU exports to Japan could increase by 32.7%, while Japanese exports to the EU would increase by 23.5%.

The next round of negotiations will take place in end March 2014.

"We need to keep up the pace", said EU Trade Spokesman John Clancy, "and push on in a spirit of cooperation so that we can deliver a deal that will bring benefits to our citizens and help create jobs."

Background

The negotiations with Japan address a number of EU concerns, including non-tariff barriers and the further opening of the Japanese public procurement market. Both sides want to an ambitious agreement covering the progressive and reciprocal liberalisation of trade in goods, services and investment, as well as rules on trade-related issues.

The negotiations are based on the outcome of a joint scoping exercise, which the EU and Japan completed in May 2012. In it both parties demonstrated their willingness and capacity to commit themselves to an ambitious trade liberalisation agenda. The Commission has also agreed with Japan on specific 'roadmaps' for the removal, in the context of the negotiations, of non-tariff barriers as well as on the opening up of public procurement for Japan's railways and urban transport market.

Given the importance that the elimination of non-tariff barriers has for achieving a level playing field for European businesses on the Japanese market, the negotiating directives adopted by the Council in November 2012 call for the elimination of EU duties and non-tariff barriers in Japan to go hand-in-hand. They also allow the EU side to suspend negotiations after one year if Japan does not live up to its commitments to remove non-tariff barriers. To protect sensitive European sectors, there will also be a safeguard clause.

What has happened so far?

At the EU-Japan Summit of May 2011, the EU and Japan decided to start preparations for both an FTA and a political framework agreement. In May 2012, after one year of intensive discussions, the Commission agreed with Japan on a very ambitious agenda for negotiations covering all EU market access priorities. On 29 November 2012 the EU's Member States gave the European Commission a mandate to open negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement.

The negotiations were officially launched on 25 March 2013 by President Jose Manuel Barroso, President Herman Van Rompuy and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The first round of the negotiations took place on 15-19 April 2013 in Brussels, the second round on 24 June-2 July in Tokyo and the third one on 21-25 October in Brussels.

For more information

EU trade relations with Japan

Impact assessment EU-Japan FTA, July 2012