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EU calls for launch of FTA talks with Japan

XINHUA | 2012-7-19

EU calls for launch of FTA talks with Japan

BRUSSELS, July 18 (Xinhua) — The European Union (EU)’s executive arm on Wednesday called on its member states to start Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks with Japan.

"The European Commission has today decided to ask Member States for the green light to open free trade negotiations with Japan," said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.

The initiative to start Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiation has been welcomed by both sides’ industries, though it could put the European car market under pressure.

For the last few decades, the trade relationship between Europe and Japan has been characterized by a strong trade surplus in favor of Japan. For this reason, concerns have been raised on competition, especially for the European car industry.

In order to re-establish a trade balance between Europe and Japan, the European Commission made it clear that Tokyo’s commitment to address a number of non-tariff barriers and further open its public procurement market is a key condition for the EU to finalize the procedure.

"We agreed with Japan that if the implementation has not been satisfactory, I will stop the negotiations. I also made clear that the EU will not reduce any tariffs before Japan delivers concrete results on regulatory barriers and this includes the car sector," said De Gucht.

He added that the free trade deal could increase the EU’s gross domestic product by almost one percentage point, boost EU exports to Japan by one third, and create 400,000 jobs across the 27-nation bloc.

"This is real growth, these are real jobs. Free trade with Japan is a major piece in the puzzle," he said.

"The ball is now in the member states’ court," he noted. "I would ask them to seize this opportunity and to give the Commission a mandate to start negotiations soon."

 source: Xinhua