Thursday

22nd Feb 2018

EU and Japan closing in on trade deal

  • Trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem (left) led an EU negotiating team in Tokyo over the weekend. (Photo: European Commission)

[Updated on 4 July at 7.30] An EU-Japan summit will be held on Thursday (6 July) to announce a political agreement underpinning the free trade deal, the bloc announced in the early hours of Tuesday (4 July).

"Ambitious free and fair trade deal in the making," European Council chief Donald Tusk tweeted on Tuesday morning.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Japan's prime minister, Abe (l), could travel to Brussels on Thursday to sign an agreement in principle. (Photo: Council of the EU)

The European Commission confirmed on Monday (3 July) that the EU and Japan are close to reaching an agreement "in principle" on a free trade deal.

"An agreement in principle between the EU and Japan is within reach. We are hopeful, we are confident, but we are not yet certain that we could agree," a commission spokesman told reporters.

Trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem will debrief the college of commissioners on Tuesday, while the Japanese government is also discussing agreeing to the deal.

It is not expected that the EU executive will object to parts of the deal, nor to the agreement itself.

“We hope to announce on Thursday that we have a political agreement. The basic agreement is there,” Malmstroem said in Madrid on Monday.

The "agreement in principle” means that the "bulk of the trade agreement” has been hammered out, with contentious issues such as market access, agriculture, car industry being solved, according to an EU official.

Progress was made during talks over the weekend as Malmstroem and agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan went to Tokyo to negotiate with Japanese ministers.

If all goes as the commission hopes, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe will travel to Brussels on Thursday to formally mark the agreement with EU leaders before the G20 summit in Hamburg, which takes place on 7-8 July.

According to a spokesman, EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has been in contact with European Council president Donald Tusk to arrange a summit with Japan for Thursday.

While officials acknowledge that it would be very important to reach an agreement before the G20 meeting, they insist that agreeing on the principles is standard procedure.

The agreement would be a significant signal that Japan and the EU still champion free trade against the backdrop of US president Donald Trump’s protectionism.

Trump pulled the US out of the 12-member pan-Asian trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), prompting Japan to step up its efforts to reach a deal with the EU.

Japan, the world’s third largest economy, and the European bloc are responsible for 30 percent of the world’s economy. Free trade talks between the two had begun in 2013.

The agreement would cut tariffs on Japanese cars and parts exported to Europe, and Japan would cut tariffs on European food and farm products.

According to the EU’s projections, the free trade deal would boost the bloc’s economy by 0.8 percent over the long term.

The commission expects EU exports to Japan to increase by 32.7 percent, whereas Japanese exports to the EU are forecast to increase by 23.5 percent, thanks to the deal.

Discussions will still need to continue at a technical level on several issues, including investment protection, a controversial topic in previous EU trade deals. The EU will push for the reformed regime, the investment court system.

“There would be no way back from this, only fine tuning,” an EU official said on the significance of the principle agreement.

US and Japan warn UK on EU trade

Washington and Tokyo say trade relations with the EU are more important to them than those with Britain in the context of Brexit.

Opinion

Japan is back: Is Europe ready?

The expected free trade agreement between the EU and Japan will help the historic partners to forge a solid and mutually advantageous anchor in the troubled waters of current international politics.

EU and Japan agree on free trade

Japanese prime minister and EU leaders to endorse major trade deal on Thursday in anti-protectionist message to Trump.

EU in push to seal Latin American trade deal

In a race against the clock, EU commissioners and Mercosur ministers meet in Brussels to make concessions on beef, cheese and cars in preparation for an "endgame" in trade talks, ahead of Brazil's elections.

Opinion

Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme

Growth predictions are positive, exports increasing, unemployment dropping and credit-ratings up, says the head of Greece's Syriza delegation to the European Parliament. Now the government in Athens is looking to design its own reform programme.

Analysis

We are not (yet) one people

Talks on the next EU budget will start on Friday. Brussels wants to do much more than before – and needs a lot more money. But arguing about funds won't be enough.

News in Brief

  1. Report: EU to increase sanctions on Myanmar
  2. Juncker 'worried' by Italian elections
  3. EU migration to UK at lowest since 2012
  4. MEP Andrieu will chair parliament pesticide committee
  5. Juncker's right-hand man warns of 'institutional blockage'
  6. Greek parliament to open probe on PMs and EU commissioner
  7. May gathers Brexit ministers to hammer out UK position
  8. Tajani asks Juncker for all EMA Brexit relocation documents

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU leaders to kick off post-Brexit budget debate
  2. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme
  3. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  4. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court
  5. Dutch MPs vote on ending 'Ukraine-type' referendums
  6. Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress
  7. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  8. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'