Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, met European Union leaders during third week of April in Brussels. The Japanese PM is extremely interested to secure free trade deals with the EU as quickly as possible. Deal negotiations started in 2013- but have encountered multiple roadblocks. A number of challenges remain when it comes to clinching the deal. There is convincing evidence that if it goes through, both sides can gain.
Multiple rounds of talks
Japan and the EU had already held a number of negotiations on the issue, with the 18th round held from April 3 to April 5. The talks were led by Yoichi Suzuki, who represented Japan and Mauro Petriccione, who represented the EU. The meetings were held in Tokyo. According to the Japanese Foreign Affairs Ministry, the discussions were fruitful and involved touching a number of areas like Intellectual Property Rights, government procurement, trade in services, investment and non-tariff measures. Similar satisfaction was expressed by the EU as it described the trade talks as a progressive discussion done in “constructive atmosphere”. All negotiating topics were discussed.
A number of complicated issues continue to bug the Japan-EU trade agreement. These includes automobile and agriculture market access. The issue of non-tariff barriers are a pain as well. These needs a resolution as Japan and the European Union together constitute one third the total world GDP. According to officials, a deal signed between these trading behemoths could be an excellent example of benefits being accrued from building economic ties. These will be welcome news when the issue of globalization and trade face increasing public scrutiny. Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU Trade Commissioner, echoed the sentiment when she said that there exists a continuing and vibrant debate in the public sphere concerning globalization and trade. She added that the lessons learned from the debate with Japan are now being employed in the real world.
Japan, EU trade partnership
Malmstrom continued on to say that there is an urgent need to strengthen the EU partnership with Japan, whom she described as Europe's closest Asian ally. This becomes more important as protectionism is rising all over the world. A powerful and effective signal can be conveyed if the European Union-Japan trade deal gets signed.
Two proposals were published by the EU in March concerning trade negotiations with Japan. One supports the requirements of medium enterprises and small enterprises. The other promotes regulatory cooperation and better regulatory practices.