The EU team is headed up by Mauro Petriccione, Director in the European Commission's Directorate General for Trade, the Japanese side being led by Ambassador Jun Yokota, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
'It's been a good start,' said Petriccione, coming out of the talks, held in Brussels. 'This is a big negotiation with some difficult issues, but I am confident we can make good progress in the months to come.'
The aim is for a comprehensive agreement in goods, services and investment eliminating tariffs, non-tariff barriers and covering other trade-related issues, such as public procurement, regulatory issues, competition, and sustainable development.
An agreement between the two economic giants is expected to boost Europe’s economy by 0.6 to 0.8 % of its GDP and will result in growth and the creation of 400.000 jobs. It is expected that EU exports to Japan could increase by 32.7%, while Japanese exports to the EU would increase by 23.5%.
The next round of negotiations will be in Tokyo 24-28 June with a further round envisaged later in the year.
What is covered in the negotiations?
The negotiations with Japan will address a number of EU concerns, including non-tariff barriers and the further opening of the Japanese public procurement market. Both sides aim at concluding an agreement covering the progressive and reciprocal liberalisation of trade in goods, services and investment, as well as rules on trade-related issues.
The negotiations will be based on the outcome of a joint scoping exercise, which the EU and Japan completed in May 2012. In the context of this exercise, both parties demonstrated their willingness and capacity to commit to an ambitious trade liberalisation agenda. The Commission has also agreed with Japan on specific 'roadmaps' for the removal, in the context of the negotiations, of non-tariff barriers as well as on the opening up of public procurement for Japan's railways and urban transport market.
Given the importance that the elimination of non-tariff barriers has for achieving a level playing field for European businesses on the Japanese market, the negotiating directives adopted by the Council last November foresee a parallelism between the elimination of EU duties and of non-tariff barriers in Japan. They also authorise the suspension of the negotiations after one year, if Japan does not live up to its commitments on removing non-tariff barriers. To protect sensitive European sectors, there will also be a safeguard clause.
What has happened so far?
At the EU-Japan Summit of May 2011, the EU and Japan decided to start preparations for both an FTA and a political framework agreement and stated that on the basis of a successful scoping exercise, the Commission would seek the necessary authorisation from the Council for negotiations.
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