Tokyo targets EU trade deal by end of 2017

Shinzo Abe and Donald Tusk. [European Union]

The Japanese government plans to accelerate talks with the EU, aiming to sign a free trade deal with the bloc this year, according to Japanese news outlet NHK. EURACTIV Spain reports.

Sources told NHK of Tokyo’s plans to complete the deal as quickly as possible, before the end of 2017.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government placed great hope on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement designed to cover 40% of world GDP and one third of global trade.

EU urged to launch trade talks with TPP countries, starting with New Zealand

As the Trans-Pacific Partnership nears completion, trade pundits in Brussels are urging the EU to turn its attention to Asia, and jump-start trade negotiations with TPP countries, beginning with New Zealand.

However, the election of Donald Trump in the United States has endangered the future of the deal , which covers 12 countries including the US, Japan, Mexico, Peru and Chili. The billionaire has often stated his opposition to international free trade deals.

So it is against this backdrop that Tokyo is now seeking to accelerate negotiations with Brussels. The two sides have been round the negotiating table since 2013, but many obstacles must still be cleared before the deal can be concluded.

For example, Abe’s government wants the EU to ditch customs duties for Japanese car manufacturers, while the EU is demanding lower tariffs for agricultural products and processed foods.

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