Monday, October 21, 2013
EU Minister Says Japan-EU FTA Talks On Track
BRUSSELS (Nikkei)--Negotiations between Japan and the European Union over a free trade agreement have progressed smoothly since being launched last April, a key EU minister has told The Nikkei.
- Linas Linkevicius
Linas Linkevicius, Lithuania's foreign minister, made the remark prior to the third round of negotiations on the trade pact. Lithuania currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU.
The latest round of talks on the trade pact, which Japan calls an economic partnership agreement, or EPA, is to be held in Brussels from Monday through Friday.
Linkevicius said the negotiations have produced good results, and so far there have been no delays. He also said that the third round will be particularly important as both sides are to present import tariff reduction proposals.
The next regular summit meeting of top Japanese and EU leaders, scheduled for Nov. 19 in Japan, will give fresh impetus to the talks, Linkevicius said. At that meeting, Japanese and EU leaders will likely confirm that the two sides both want an early conclusion to the talks, he said.
The EU plans to call for European companies to be given as much access to the Japanese market as that of companies from countries that are part of other trade pacts, including the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which is currently also under negotiation.
Among import items the EU wants Japan to liberalize are cheese and wine.
The EU has said that in April it will assess the progress of the trade talks with Japan, and is willing to suspend talks if it determines that Japan's commitment to eliminate nontariff trade barriers is insufficient.
Linkevicius described this EU threat as a negotiating tactic and indicated that it is meant to get a positive response from Japan to EU demands.
(The Nikkei, October 21 evening edition)