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Japan, EU begin 3rd round of free trade talks

Kyodo News International | October 21, 2013

Japan, EU begin 3rd round of free trade talks

Japan and the European Union began their third round of free trade negotiations in Brussels on Monday, aiming to engage in full-fledged discussions on tariffs and other trade barriers.

The Japanese delegation represented by Jun Yokota, ambassador in charge of economic diplomacy, and the EU team headed by Mauro Petriccione, director for Asian and Latin American trade at the European Commission, are taking part in the five days of talks, which also cover nontariff barriers, through Friday.

The round comes after Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht agreed last month to exchange proposals on tariffs at an early date.

The European Union has said it will review in April — a year after the launch of talks — whether Japan has made progress in eliminating nontariff barriers through deregulation and that it will decide then whether they will continue the talks or not.

Even if they do decide to continue, the negotiations could take several years before an agreement is reached, according to Japanese officials.

Japan and the 28-member bloc are aiming to reaffirm their commitment to conclude a deal at an early time during a summit slated for late November in Tokyo.

The bilateral talks are held as Japan seeks to expand exports through free trade agreements, both bilateral and regional, to help the country move further out of economic deflation.

 source: Kyodo