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Progress reached at the 3rd Round of EU-Japan Trade Talks

Japan Brussels, 25 October 2013

The third round of EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement negotiations took place in the week of the 21-25 October in Brussels. This round of negotiations focussed on discussing each side’s proposals for the text of the future FTA.

Similar to the first and second round of negotiations, discussions took place in Working Groups which covered the following areas: Trade in goods (including Market Access, General Rules, Trade Remedies), Technical Barriers to Trade and Non-Tariff Measures, Rules of Origin, Customs and Trade Facilitation, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Trade in Services, Investment, Procurement, Intellectual Property, Competition Policy, Trade and Sustainable Development, Other issues (General and Regulatory Cooperation, Corporate Governance and Business Environment, Electronic Commerce, Animal Welfare) and Dispute Settlement.

An agreement between the two economic powerhouses is expected to boost Europe’s economy by 0.6 to 0.8% of its GDP and may create up to 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 take place in early 2014.

What is covered in the negotiations?

The negotiations with Japan 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 ambitious agreement covering the progressive and reciprocal liberalisation of trade in goods, services and investment, as well as rules on trade-related issues.

The negotiations are 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 calls for the elimination of EU duties and non-tariff barriers in Japan to go hand-in-hand. They also allow the EU side to suspend negotiations after one year if Japan does not live up to its commitments to remove 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.

In May 2012, after one year of intensive discussions, the Commission agreed with Japan on a very ambitious agenda for negotiations covering all EU market access priorities. On 18 July 2012 the European Commission asked EU Member States for their agreement to open negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement with Japan, which they gave on 29 November 2012.

The negotiations were officially launched on 25 March 2013 by President Jose Manuel Barroso, President Herman Van Rompuy and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The first round of the negotiations took place on 15-19 April 2013 in Brussels and the second round on 24 June-2 July in Tokyo.

For further information

EU trade relations with Japan

Challenge and Opportunity: Starting the negotiations for Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Japan - Speech De Gucht at the EU-Japan Business Summit /Tokyo, Japan, 25 March 2013 (SPEECH/13/256)

Joint statement by the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, 25 March 2013 (IP/13/276)

Impact assessment EU-Japan FTA, July 2012 (PDF)