Japan | Brussels, 4 April 2014
EU and Japan exchange offers to open markets
Meeting this week in Tokyo, officials from the EU and Japan exchanged offers to open their markets to each other’s products. The fifth round of negotiations for a free trade agreement between these two economic powerhouses also made headway towards consolidating the chapters of the future agreement and putting on paper some new joint provisions.
The negotiators discussed a whole range of areas including tariffs and quotas, rules related to anti-dumping, anti-subsidy measures and bilateral safeguards, technical barriers to trade, health and hygiene rules having an impact on trade, rules of origin, facilitation of customs procedures, access to public tenders, and protection of intellectual property, including geographical indications.
They also talked about trade in services, investment, the links between trade and sustainable development, animal welfare, corporate governance and the business environment, electronic commerce, competition policy; and the resolution of disputes under the future agreement. The talks this week also aimed to lay the ground for future cooperation, including on regulatory matters.
As specified in the EU’s negotiating mandate, the EU will now review progress achieved during the first year of talks and assess implementation of commitments made by Japan prior to the launch of the negotiations.
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 conclude an ambitious agreement covering the progressive and reciprocal liberalisation of trade in goods, services and investment, as well as agreeing on rules on trade-related issues.
The agreement could boost Europe’s economy by 0.6% to 0.8%. Once the agreement is in place, EU exports to Japan could increase by over 30%, while Japanese exports to the EU would increase by over 20%.
The elimination of non-tariff barriers is important for achieving a level playing field for European businesses on the Japanese market. So 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.