Tokyo trade talks
EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, was in the Japanese capital of Tokyo Friday and Saturday together with Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan. The two held talks with Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Fumio Kishida and Agriculture Minister Yuji Yamamoto about concluding negotiations on a trade deal between the EU and Japan.
After the meeting, Commissioner Malmström tweeted “hard work in Tokyo but a lot of progress”, adding at a press meeting: “We are almost there. We have sufficient convergence so that our officials can discuss in the coming days to iron out the remaining details. I’m quite confident that our leaders can agree on a package at the EU-Japan summit on 6 July and give their blessing.”
Pointing out the benefits of a trade agreement, Malmström said: “An ambitious EU-Japan deal would send a powerful signal to the rest of the world that two of the largest economies are resisting protectionism, in favour of openness, trade and investment. These are the best tools to harness and shape globalisation and create more economic growth and jobs.”
Japan is the fourth richest economy in the world, and the EU’s second biggest trading partner in Asia. Together, the EU and Japan account for more than a third of the world economy. Already today, more than 600,000 jobs in the EU are tied to exports to Japan. Japanese companies in the EU employ more than half a million people.
EU exports to Japan could grow significantly by having a trade agreement in place, providing opportunities for the EU in sectors such as agriculture and food, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and motor vehicles. A deal would remove almost all custom duties which amount to up to EUR 1bn annually.
At a G20 preparatory meeting last week, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The trade agreement with Japan, if it materialises, is important. And it will fully comply with all European rules, requirements and standards.”