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EU, Japan look to speed up talks on trade deal

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EU, Japan look to speed up talks on trade deal

Abe - Tusk - Juncker - Photo EU Council

(BRUSSELS) - The European Union made a renewed push for agreement later this year on a bilateral trade deal with Japan, as the country's prime minister Shinzo Abe met EU leaders in Brussels on Tuesday.

The EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement negotiations, officially launched in 2013, are now seen to be at a decisive stage, and there is increasing confidence and political will to conclude the deal this year.

"We believe in free, fair and rules-based trade," said EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. "And so we will continue to look out towards the world, rather than return to isolationism," he said, with a glance towards U.S. protectionist sentiments.

Referring to widespread concerns about trade deals in general, Mr Juncker promised that the EU side "will continue to ensure a high level of transparency and engage directly with stakeholders and civil society on issues related to the negotiations."

EU and Japanese negotiators will now meet for a new round in Tokyo in April, and the process will intensify further thereafter. Alongside the trade agreement, the EU and Japan are also negotiating a Strategic Partnership Agreement, and leaders are expected to discuss the ongoing negotiations and press ahead for their swift conclusion.

Japan is the EU’s 7th largest overall trading partner whilst the EU is Japan's 3rd largest overall trading partner (after China and the US).

The deal with Japan, the EU’s second largest trading partner in Asia, is expected to enhance trade and investment relationships between the two parties.

European companies, especially those in the food, feed and processed food sectors, will benefit from improved access to the Japanese market, mainly through the reduction both of tariffs on specific goods as well as existing regulatory and non-tariff barriers.

EU - Japan trade

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