According to the officials, last week the European Union and Japan agreed to accelerate progress toward achieving a comprehensive economic partnership and trade agreement. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a press conference concluding the EU-Japan Summit in Brussels, and Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, said both sides had agreed to push talks forward and make renewed efforts to surmount issues related to market access for specific goods as well as geographical indicators.
President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso also noted progress in the level of commitment from both sides but said huge efforts would be needed if the accord was to have widespread effects on economic growth and job creation. “For negotiations to succeed and the agreement to be truly transformational we need to inject a high level of ambition across the board, especially in areas such as market access for goods including agriculture, non-tariff measures, public procurement or geographic indications”commented Barroso.
Trade between the two regions has been growing at 4% annually over the past five year and reached E110 billion in 2013.
Japan is the EU’s second biggest trading partner in Asia, after China. In 2013, the EU represented 9% of Japan’s trade, making it Japan’s third most important trade partner. Japan was the EU’s sixth largest export market and EU exports to Japan reached E54 billion in 2013. EU imports from Japan stood at E56 billion.
The European Commission estimates that a successful introduction of a free-trade agreement between the two sides could boost Europe’s economy by 0.6% to 0.8% of GDP. EU exports to Japan could increase by 32.7% while Japanese exports to the EU could increase by 23.5%. As many as 420,000 jobs could also be created in the EU.
To assess the progress achieved during the first year of negotiations, the Commission is currently finalizing a report, which will be presented to the Council in the coming weeks.
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